Alaska Scouts

The Alaska Scouts was an ad hoc elite reconnaissance force organized by Colonel Lawrence Castner, Buckner's intelligence chief at Alaska Defense Command in 1941. Its official designation was 1 Combat Intelligence Platoon (Provisional) and consisted of a small number (never more than 66 strong) of Alaskan outdoorsmen selected for their ruggedness and trained for long-range patrols over unfavorable terrain. Their unofficial name was "Castner's Cutthroats."

As with other special forces raised for reconnaissance missions, such as the Alamo Scouts, the Alaska Scouts were allowed to select their own weapons and their training emphasized stealth, survival skills, small unit tactics, and the use of rubber boats. The Alaska Scouts generally operated in teams of five to eight men. They were involved in almost every amphibious operation in the Aleutians, but played a particularly important role as scouts and guides during the Attu campaign (Dwyer 2013):

We were sent in first to reconnoiter a suitable spot to land the main force. The fog was thick, visibility under 100 yards. Given a heading by the destroyer, we rowed to the beach. I was in the bow of the first boat to touch land. About 100 ft. inland was a low bank, maybe 2 ft. high. I reached it as fast as I could just in case there was a Japanese soldier waiting to dispute my right to be there. By the morning of the second day the fog had lifted, covering only the ridge tops where the enemy had dug in. They could see us; we couldn't see them. We were given the job of probing fog banks, working our way forward till we drew fire. On one of those trips I got a bullet in my collar.

The last reconnaissance performed by the Alaska Scouts was in the Kiska operation, but they were not disbanded until 1946.


Dwyer (2013; accessed 2013-4-24)\

Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman (2011-10-31; accessed 2013-4-24)

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