U.S. Soldier Killed in Bear Attack on Alaska Army Base

BY Herschel Smith
1 week, 6 days ago

F&S.

A U.S. Army soldier was killed in a fatal bear attack while on a training exercise in Anchorage, Alaska, Tuesday. The soldier, whose name is being withheld until family is notified, was part of a small group from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) operating in Training Area 412 west of the Anchorage Regional Landfill, according to a statement from the base.

Initial reports have not indicated what species of bear was involved in the attack. A video on the JBER website that urges caution in dealing with a heavy bear presence shows both black and grizzly bears on the base, which covers 64,213 acres of coastal lowlands surrounded by high mountain chains, mostly consisting of wild areas dotted with lakes and swamps. Hunting and fishing are allowed on the base, and access is managed through the use of an online registration system. Training Area 412 was closed to the public after the incident, which is Alaska’s first fatal bear attack of 2022.

Does Military.com know something we don’t?

A soldier died in a bear attack during a training exercise at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, the Army announced Monday.

It is unclear whether the soldier was equipped with bear spray, or if their unit supplies the spray to all of its troops. A packing list for students at Alaska’s Cold Weather Leaders Course, the region’s premier school training soldiers to survive in the area, does not include bear spray.

The base news release says nothing about cold weather training, but of course it does say that he perished in training.

What do we make of the Military.com report?  Are they sending Soldiers out to train in the region of the country most densely populated by bears without carrying means of self defense?  Are they doing that?  Do they not trust them with handguns?

Bear spray?  Seriously?

Bear spray?


Comments

  1. On May 11, 2022 at 11:46 pm, TheAlaskan said:

    @ Herschel

    “Are they sending Soldiers out to train in the region
    of the country most densely populated by bears without carrying means of self defense? ”

    Yes they do that. Never heard them being issued bear spray. Remember, most, if not all Soldiers up here are NOT bear savvy. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a Soldier being killed by a bear while training. I could be wrong, but I’ve been up here over forty years.

  2. On May 12, 2022 at 12:05 am, Georgiaboy61 said:

    @ Herschel

    Re: “What do we make of the Military.com report? Are they sending Soldiers out to train in the region of the country most densely populated by bears without carrying means of self defense? Are they doing that? Do they not trust them with handguns?”

    I’m sure your former Marine son can give you chapter-and-verse on this subject, but here goes anyway…

    You’d think that anyone who swore the oath to protect and defend the republic and all of that good stuff, i.e., someone who has willingly placed his life in harm’s way, if it should come to that – in defense of the nation, could be trusted to bear arms in self-defense. But that’s not how mil.gov does things.

    Small arms are kept in locked arms lockers and arms rooms while forces are in garrison, and only selected personnel are issued keys, typically officers and senior NCOs, and also personnel whose MOS involves the bearing of arms in a military law-enforcement role, such as MPs and SPs (navy shore patrol).

    But if you don’t belong to one of those categories, you are out-of-luck when it comes to bearing arms, either on base or on training exercises. And even on many deployments, National Guard and other forces may be uniformed and under arms while engaged in disaster relief or riot control, but in many instances, they are not issued ammunition. I must be dense, because I fail to see the “logic” of issuing small arms to the troops but not ammunition. If the situation is serious-enough to warrant the issue of arms, then shouldn’t it also be serious-enough to merit the issue of ammunition?

    These sorts of inconsistencies are what bring us such ridiculous absurdities as the Ft. Hood mass-murderer, Nadal Hasan – the former army psychiatrist-turned-jihadist – who slew nearly at will in the midst of thousands of soldiers during his ramage of August 2013. Why? Because Big Green did not trust its own personnel to carry sidearms while on base. Indeed, the security guard who stopped Hasan’s spree – Dept.of the Army police officer Mark Todd – was a civilian.

    And if Big Green and the other services won’t trust their personnel to carry side-arms in garrison then it is not surprising that they won’t trust them to carry them in the wild, either. I am not privy to the current regs, but I recall reading someplace that it is also hard to get permission to own privately-owned firearms while in the armed forces, even for recreational use hunting and other purposes. Maybe your son can comment on that….

  3. On May 12, 2022 at 6:17 am, Fred said:

    “Anchorage Regional Landfill”

    Dangerous place to be anywhere near when bear come out in the spring.

  4. On May 12, 2022 at 6:22 am, Wes said:

    They could’ve been just be-bopping around to lay out a compass course.
    But carry (adequate) weapons to suppress “beloved” wildlife? Heresy.

  5. On May 12, 2022 at 6:49 am, Dov said:

    Yes they send you out helpless.

    Back in the late 1990’s, I went through Mountain Warfare Training Center’s winter survival class. I was flying F/A-18’s at the time nearby and spent many weekends dog sled camping in that area, so I called up the instructors and asked if they provide a weapon or should I bring my own. I will never forget the answer: long pause, then ‘well, ma’am, we don’t allow firearms.’ I was floored! Bears were a big problem around there and no one with half a brain cell went out overnight without weapons, even when you had 10 dogs with you!

  6. On May 12, 2022 at 11:03 am, Agammamon said:

    Of course they trust them with handguns – they just don’t trust us with *ammunition*.

    One of the least defended places in the country is a military base.

  7. On May 12, 2022 at 11:09 am, Drake said:

    Yep. In the Marines and even the National Guard, I often went to the field with a rifle – and never with any ammo. They simply do not trust soldiers with ammo except on the range. Even on a deployment, we were issued ammo way too close for comfort to the enemy.

  8. On May 12, 2022 at 11:48 am, Bones said:

    We did a training mission to the AK NG in October ’88. My team carried live ammo for our M16A1’s against policy. I had my S&W Model 29, .44 mag with me, definitely against policy. The final part of our exercise was a 50 mile hump out of the tundra, and we came upon mama and baby bear tracks multiple times along the way. Didn’t see the bears, fortunately for us.

    Later, another team got deployed to AK for a training direct action mission run by SOCPAC. After the mission, they ordered the team to dump rucksacks, and everyone had live ammo. Team Commander, (former enlisted MACVSOG NCO), got fired.

    The Army doesn’t trust troops with ammo, and doesn’t care about real threats, like bears, either.

  9. On May 12, 2022 at 12:03 pm, Red Man said:

    Military.com? The website that dropped the comment section? Not putting much faith in what they write.

    “Another General fired, but we won’t say why”

  10. On May 12, 2022 at 1:08 pm, TheAlaskan said:

    Amazingly, just saw a bear on the road near my farm. Black. They’re about. Packing the 44 from now on…

  11. On May 12, 2022 at 5:09 pm, JB said:

    A Russian Bear ?

  12. On May 12, 2022 at 9:02 pm, Bravo1019 said:

    Bones, I was on that same mission in ’88. We gave all of our 5.56 to a civilian that worked for a gold mining company on the outskirts of Nome.

    I remember the incident that got the team ldr relieved, although I was off the team by then.

    Herschel would you give Bones my email address. Thanks.

  13. On May 15, 2022 at 3:59 am, Dov said:

    “Bear spray” should mean a shotgun.

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You are currently reading "U.S. Soldier Killed in Bear Attack on Alaska Army Base", entry #30285 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Animals and was published May 11th, 2022 by Herschel Smith.

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