WASHINGTON DC - Despite heavy violence in the Middle East and budget shortfalls at home, the Pentagon announced today that it is pressing forward with a new plan to stand up a unified combatant command for the Antarctica region.
"As we move forward to face the challenges of global warming in the twenty-first century, our military needs to adapt to the changing environment," announced Gen. Jack "Frost" Winters at a press conference today. Winters is the four-star general who has been tapped by the Joint Chiefs to lead the new ANTARCTICOM unit.
The command will consist of an Army component (ARANT), to handle any ground forces in the region; a Navy component (NAVANT) to handle naval forces in the region; an Air Force group (AFANT) based out of Elmendorf Air Force Base and providing C-130 support; and a Marine component, MARFORANT, which will do the exact same thing that ARANT does, only with a silent drill team and a slick media campaign.
Due to personnel shortfalls caused by both the military drawdown and sequestration, the actual headquarters will consist of only two dozen personnel: Gen. Winters, several colonels to get him coffee, a group of bitter master sergeants waiting for retirement, and a lone private first class who drives the general around, buffs the floors, takes out trash, and rails the general's civilian secretary.
The Pentagon has been pushing for an extremely southern command ever since the United States helped draft the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, which pledged the United States to help combat global warming by cutting emissions.
Claiming that fighting climate change was logically a military mission, the various branches spent several years arguing over which service should have responsibility for the polar icecaps, before settling on a single unified command.
Still, there are some detractors.
"We trained for fifty years in jungle environments so we could successfully fight two decades in the desert," complained Gerald Geert, an independent analyst in Washington D.C. "Now we need to train in the snow to somehow contain China? Does this make any sense?"
"If we don't deploy to Antarctica, someone else will," Gen. Winters explained. "If not us then maybe China, or Iran, or Al Qaeda. We need to make this vital commitment and show our Antarctic allies that America stands with them."
According to Winters, the new ANTARCTICOM will be created as part of a broader realignment of the combatant commands. In the interests of efficiency, AFRICOM will be abolished and all African-related issues will be referred to military commanders in Europe, a practice which dates back to the 19th century.
Winters also confirmed that SOUTHCOM and NORTHCOM will also be merged to form one single command to cover the western hemisphere. Members of SOUTHCOM wishing to transfer to NORTHCOM will be able to apply for a green card or other visa, as soon as the five-year backlog of service members from CENTCOM is sorted out.
Because the 1959 Antarctic Treaty prohibits all military activity in nature on the Antarctic continent, the new headquarters will either be based out of Stuttgart, Germany or MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. Winters also confirmed that ANTARCTICOM was negotiating with several African countries as well, much to the annoyance of AFRICOM.
Until then, Winters and his staff have been working on a shoestring budget out of an old luxury hotel located in downtown Honolulu, which according to an ANTARCTICOM spokesman is the cheapest lodging they could find.