An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | Jan. 12, 2015

Soldiers Overcome Environmental Challenges to Fitness in Alaska

By David Vergun

Polar bears thrive in Alaska, as do Arctic wolves -- particularly the Arctic Wolves of 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team's 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

Thanks to the Performance Triad -- the Army surgeon general's prescription for building readiness and resilience through adequate sleep, activity and nutrition -- the two-legged variety of Arctic Wolves are thriving even more in their harsh environment, according to 1-5's commander, Lt. Col. Thomas M. Hough.


Soldiers in the lower 48 experience a good balance between night and day, but go north to Fort Wainwright, which is close to the Arctic Circle, and light and darkness fluctuate wildly from about three hours of sunlight around this time of year, to around 22 hours of sunlight mid-summer, Hough said.

People in Alaska are at greater risk of having sleep problems because of this fluctuation, according to Heidi Knode, the technical director at Alaska Sleep Clinic in Anchorage, a city 358 miles south of Fairbanks. She explained that it has to do with circadian rhythms of the body's sleep/wake cycle.

The Arctic Wolves know this, so they developed a sleep plan, said Hough said. "You can't let the environment master you, you have to master it."

"In the summer we teach our Soldiers and their families how to construct heavy drapes and sun shades so they can get some sleep even when the sun is up for 22 hours," he explained. "All these techniques passed from one Soldier to another enable the brigade to actively manage the incorporation of new Soldiers into this unique environment."

Hough admitted that getting sleep isn't always a guarantee in the Army, especially now that the Arctic Wolves are headed south for a rotation through the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, where heavy drapes won't be needed and training isn't constrained to a comfy workday schedule.


Keeping fit can also be challenging in Alaska this time of year, where temperatures average 2 degrees for a high and minus 18 for a low. That would make for a chilly morning run.

"[Physical Training] outdoors can be challenging," Hough said. "To combat the extreme environment, the brigade has resourced additional indoor physical fitness facilities as well as resourced training programs to educate leaders in how to conduct innovative physical fitness training with limited resources."

The brigade has a wellness center, which recently opened, so Soldiers now have a full range of indoor fitness equipment. "The indoor space really helped us," he said. "The younger generation understands functional fitness. You don't have to really talk them into it. They get it. They're motivated about it."


The younger Soldiers also recognize that eating the right food is also an important part of being fit, Hough said.

It wasn't that long ago that the brigade dining facilities didn't have a breakfast salad bar, he said. They now do. "It sounds small, but it gives Soldiers a lot more choices and opportunities."

Hough summed everything up, "What we know is that the proper balance of nutrition, fitness, and sleep leads to a well-balanced and healthy Soldier and family. Balance is best achieved when the Performance Triad is a way of life, a behavioral change that over time becomes organizational culture. This concept is even more important to the Soldiers of the Arctic Wolf Brigade with the dramatically changing environment."

"Without the Performance Triad as a core custom, you are likely to find the Alaska environment mastering you versus you mastering your environment," Hough said.



U.S. Indo-Pacific Commander Travels to Japan
Adm. John C. Aquilino, right, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, inspects the Japan ground self defense force special honor guard with Japanese Chief of Staff, Japan Joint Staff, Gen. Yoshihide Yoshida during a visit to Tokyo, April 22, 2024. The visit included exchanges on regional security and mutual partnership, further developing the strategic partnership with Japan codified in the 1960 U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. USINDOPACOM is committed to enhancing stability in the Indo-Pacific region by promoting security cooperation, encouraging peaceful development, responding to contingencies, deterring aggression and, when necessary, fighting to win. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John D. Bellino)
April 23, 2024 - TOKYO — Adm. John C. Aquilino, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, visited Japan from April 21-23, 2024. This was Aquilino’s final overseas engagement with partners and Allies as commander of USINDOPACOM. Aquilino will be...

South Korea’s largest air exercise proves ‘Accept Follow-on Forces’ mission
Republic of Korea Air Force F-15K Slam Eagles and FA-50 Golden Eagles parked on the airfield at Kunsan Air Base, ROK, April 12, 2024. ROKAF follow-on forces arrived from across the country to participate in Korea Flying Training 2024. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Ross)
April 22, 2024 - A crucial aspect of any exercise for the 8th Fighter Wing is the reception of forces, and that was no different as the Wolf Pack hosts the largest air exercise in the Republic of Korea...

USSPACECOM visit cements commitment to bolstering the Alliance in Korea
Republic of Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Chairman Adm. Kim Myung-soo, left, meets Gen. Stephen Whiting, head of the U.S. Space Command, at Kim's office in Seoul, April 22, 2024. Throughout his trip, Whiting, accompanied by Gen. Paul LaCamera, Commander of United States Forces Korea, who oversees the U.S.-ROK mil-to-mil relationship, discussed the critical role of space-based assets in enhancing situational awareness and communication. The discussions focused on leveraging USSPACECOM's expertise and capabilities to fortify the defense posture of U.S. and allied forces in the region, ensuring readiness and resilience in the face of evolving security challenges. (Photo by: ROK JCS)
April 22, 2024 - Gen. Stephen Whiting, Commander of the United States Space Command (USSPACECOM), visited the Republic of Korea (ROK) April 21-22 as part of his first overseas visit, where he engaged with senior government and military...

Exercise Balikatan 2024 kicks off with opening ceremony highlighting ironclad alliance
Philippine and U.S. government and military representatives conduct the “friendship way” handhold at the opening ceremony to commence Balikatan 24 at Camp Aguinaldo, Manila, Philippines, April 22, 2024. BK 24 is an annual exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. military designed to strengthen bilateral interoperability, capabilities, trust, and cooperation built over decades of shared experiences (U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Erica Stanke)
April 22, 2024 - Exercise Balikatan 2024, the largest annual bilateral exercise conducted between the Philippines and the U.S., commenced with an opening ceremony at Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) General Headquarters today...

USINDOPACOM Statement on DPRK launch
Graphic intended for use as a placeholder for Statements and Press Releases without accompanying imagery.
April 22, 2024 - We are aware of the ballistic missile launch and are consulting closely with our allies and partners. While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies,...