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Northern Edge draws thousands to Alaska June 18, 2009

Posted by scmla in Drill Report.

DRILL REPORT: Northern Edge draws thousands to Alaska

When: June 15-26, 2009
Where: Alaska
Who: US Navy, Army, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard under US PACOM (US Pacific Command)

Military training exercise draws thousands to state
Northern Edge features 200 aircraft, including B-52s, F-16s and Blackhawk Helicopters. (KTUU-DT)

by Channel 2 News staff
Monday, June 15, 2009

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — More than 9,000 people from all branches of the military are in Alaska for a training exercise called Northern Edge.

It features 200 aircraft, including B-52s, F-16s and Blackhawk Helicopters.

This year the nuclear-powered Super Carrier, the USS John C. Stennis, will operate out of the Gulf of Alaska with more than 70 aircraft and 500 sailors.

Northern Edge is expected to last through June 26.

You can read more about the specifics of the drill here: http://www.elmendorf.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-090519-165.pdf

Additional notes: This is the third drill going on through the 26th (US Joint Forces’ CWID 09, NORAD’s Ardent Sentry, and Northern Edge).

Note: Full text of the NORTHERN EDGE press release is below (copied directly from the U.S. Pacific Command Blogspot). It should also be noted that while the NORTHERN EDGE exercise is taking place “both on and above” Alaska, the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) itself “encompasses about half the earth’s surface, stretching from the west coast of the U.S. to the western border of India, and from Antarctica to the North Pole” &, according to their own website, also “participates in many exercises and other engagement activities with foreign military forces, including:

  • TALISMAN SABER: A biennial Australia/United bilateral exercise merging Exercises TANDEM THRUST, KINGFISHER and CROCODILE … The exercise is a key opportunity to train Australian & US combined forces in mid to high-intensity combat operations using training areas in Australia.
  • COBRA GOLD: A joint/combined exercise with Thailand designed to improve U.S./Thai combat readiness & joint/combined interoperability.
  • BALIKATAN: A joint exercise with the Republic of the Philippines and the U.S. to improve combat readiness and interoperability.
  • KEEN SWORD/KEEN EDGE: Joint/bilateral training exercises (field training/simulation, respectively) to increase combat readiness & joint/bilateral interoperability of U.S. Forces and Japan Self-Defense Forces for the defense of Japan.
  • RIM OF THE PACIFIC: A biennial large-scale multinational power projection/sea control exercise. In 2000, participants included the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Chile and the United Kingdom.

Keeping all the above (& below) in mind, it is also of interest to note that there is a USPACOM exercise in Indonesia called GARUNDA SHIELD, which is running concurrently with NORTHERN EDGE, CWID & ARDENT SENTRY & “will include a United Nations Force Headquarters computer-simulated command post exercise … checkpoint operations, patrolling, securing a distribution site, and convoy operations.” The following countries were invited: Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, China, France , Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Thailand, Tonga, United Kingdom & Vietnam.

— Kim

Joint Exercise Northern Edge Begins in Alaska
Maj. Bradley Gordon
June 15, 2009

Alaska’s single largest annual military training exercise, Northern Edge, began today and runs through June 26, with more than 9000 active duty and reserve U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines taking part in the joint training both on and above the Central Alaska Ranges and the Gulf of Alaska.

As reported in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, there will be more than 200 aircraft taking part, to include the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis and her 70- plus aircraft air wing.

The regularly scheduled exercise allows U.S. military units to train in a joint environment and perfect tactics, techniques and procedures, while improving command, control and communication relationships associated with joint operations.

Alaska’s size enables the military to have the largest air-ground training complex in the United States.

U.S. Pacific Command-sponsored training exercises such as Northern Edge are designed to increase proficiency and provide effective, flexible, and capabilities-centered joint forces ready for deployment worldwide.

Keep up with the exercise on the Northern Edge website, Flicrk, and Twitter.


I just found an article that will help us better understand what the NORTHERN EDGE exercise is all about — see the areas in bold below.

— Kim

Northern Edge 2009: military training in the ‘Last Frontier’
Marine Sgt. Zachary Dyer
Northern Edge Joint Information Bureau

ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines have come together to hone their warfighting capabilities during the largest military training exercise in Alaska.

Approximately 9,000 servicemembers will take part in exercise Northern Edge 2009 June 15-26.

The air-centric exercise involves more than 200 Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps aircraft. Northern Edge will be conducted mostly from Elmendorf and Eielson Air Force bases in Alaska, with operations being conducted in the Gulf of Alaska and at the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex.

Servicemembers involved in the exercise will practice defensive counter air operations, close air support, air interdiction of maritime targets, personnel recovery missions and have the opportunity to incorporate new weapons systems into their operations. The main focus of the exercise is to better prepare the warfighters of each service to respond to a crisis in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Northern Edge is probably, if not the biggest, then one of the biggest joint training exercises in all of the (Department of Defense) enterprises,” said Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, the commander of Alaskan Command and 11th Air Force. “To bring Northern Edge to Alaska is one of the most optimum things we could do in the military right now. Alaska has a phenomenal training environment. Most people understand the (Nellis AFB, Nevada) training range – the Nellis training range has approximately 12,000 square miles of training air space. Here in Alaska, just in the overland training airspace, there’s 65,000 square miles. We also integrate the Gulf of Alaska, so we’ll have nearly 120,000 square miles.”

One feature of Northern Edge 2009 designed to increase the scope of the exercise is its Live-Virtual-Constructive operations that combine real-time operations with aircrew participating in aircraft simulators and computer generated combatants. Through the L-V-C aspect of Northern Edge, servicemembers from nine different time zones, some as far away as Virginia, are able to participate in the exercise.

“It gives us a level of complexity that we could not normally do, based on the restriction on resources and sometimes even the training spaces that we have to operate within,” said Atkins.

Almost every Alaskan-based Air Force unit is involved in the exercise, with approximately 2,000 people deployed here from other bases around the country and abroad, and an additional 5,000 people operating on ships in the Gulf of Alaska. The major commands involved in the exercise are U.S. Pacific Command, Alaskan Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Pacific Air Forces, Marine Forces Pacific, U.S. Army Pacific, Special Operations Command Pacific, Air Combat Command, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and U.S. Naval Reserve.

At the end of the two-week exercise, all the players involved should walk away confident in their ability to work together to accomplish the mission, explained Atkins.

“You build a Super Bowl team when you know that the wide receiver is going to run the pattern the quarterback said, or the guy on the line is going to do exactly what he needs to so that nobody gets to the quarterback,” said Atkins. “We build that confidence in these kind of exercises. That’s probably one of the biggest dividends that comes out of this – the trust that we build between all of our service partners.”



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