Unalaska and 351st Civil Affairs Command Awarded Civilian/Military Partnership of the Year
Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) is a program which allows military Guard and Reserve units from all over the country to expend training resources while conducting real-world missions in locations conducive to their training requirements. This program allows them to receive world-class training, while also serving rural communities in a meaningful way.
Five years ago, the Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska submitted an application for IRT Civil Affairs support to assess public works opportunities and challenges in their community. In 2020, the Tribe received notification that their application had been approved. According to Tribe President Tom Robinson, “While in a meeting with Senator Dan Sullivan’s office I was encouraged to apply for the IRT program. I am so glad we did. Their engagement has brought our community leaders closer together and has been a very positive experience for us. We were, of course, excited when we learned Major Tulsi Gabbard was going to visit our community as a part of the IRT team.”
The award came on the heels of a Memorandum of Understanding between the local governmental entities. On August 27, 2020, Unalaska Mayor, Vince Tutiakoff; Qawalangin Tribe President, Tom Robinson; and Ounalashka Corporation (OC) CEO, Christopher P. Salts, Sr. signed a trilateral agreement. The first of its kind, the agreement is a commitment by the three entities to work together toward common goals to benefit the community. “I’m proud to serve this community. My family has called Unalaska home for generations. We all want the best for our people and community in the future. Agreements like this will get us there,” Mayor Tutiakoff stated.
Also present to witness were the 351st Civil Affairs team, which included Major Tulsi Gabbard, Congresswoman and former presidential candidate; Bernie Karl, President and CEO of Chena Power; Senator Joshua Revak, Alaska State Legislature; Givey Kochanowski, U.S. Department of Energy; Natalie A. Cale, OC’s General Counsel and Director of Ounalashka/Chena Power, LLC; Michael Deegan, Waste Management Executive; Chris Price, Qawalangin Tribe Environmental Director; and Ty Moore, CEO of Alaska Strategy.
COL Bradford Hughes, 351st Civil Affairs Command, Functional Specialty (FxSP) Chief, was pleased at the unique IRT opportunity. “It brought together some of the best and brightest within the FxSP to harness their collective influence and provide technical assistance to the community and stakeholders of Unalaska. The entire team had a wonderful experience, built readiness, and is looking forward to advancing this relationship into the future.”
Chris Salts, OC CEO, expressed gratitude for the award and enthusiasm toward the opportunities for shareholders and the community as a whole. “Unalaska faces great opportunities from geothermal power, from telecommunications and transportation, to remediation and community wellness. Given our remote location, unforgiving climate, and Alaska Native culture, we provide an unmatched training environment. We appreciate the IRT program and their involvement in our community.”
The Ounalashka Corporation was formed in 1973 under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. OC is a for-profit corporation with businesses in land leasing and development, and is the major landowner in Unalaska, with residential properties as well as commercial clients in the fishing and fishing support industries, international shipping and logistics, sand and gravel extraction, retail and others.