EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
For the past two weeks, Eielson Air Force Base hosted NORTHERN EDGE 2017, a premier joint training exercise which took place in the Gulf of Alaska and around central Alaska ranges from May 1-12, 2017.
The exercise brought together nearly 6,000 active-duty, Reserve and National Guard members from all branches of the military to participate in an exercise designed to practice operations, tactics, techniques and procedures, and enhance interoperability among the services.
“Exercises like Northern Edge allow us to work together, talk together and fight together and it’s important to do so because that’s how we are going to deploy. No service can do it on their own,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Stephen Driskill, the chief of staff at the Joint Electromagnetic Preparedness for Advanced Combat, U.S. Strategic Command. “We are able to gain different advantages and strengths from all the different services here; to make sure that we, as a department of defense, are able to get the best capabilities possible.”
NE17 involved approximately 200 aircraft including F-15E Strike Eagles, F-16C Fighting Falcons, FA-18D Hornets, EA-6B Prowlers, and nearly 800 aircraft maintainers to ensure operational readiness at a moment's-notice. Live, Virtual and Constructive training participants tied in from other bases using simulators, as well as constructive forces, enhance the quality of training for live participants across Alaska.
“We are very proud of what the 354th Fighter Wing has done to improve our ability to fuse live training, virtual training and constructive training all together into one live-virtual battlespace that provides increased realism and complexity for everyone involved,” said Col. David Mineau the 354th Fighter Wing commander. “It’s all about providing more people with more effective and more integrated training than we can do otherwise in just the live domain.”
Aside from the sheer number of people and aircraft, the terrain itself provides unique training advantages. The military training ranges in Alaska are collectively known as the JPARC, or Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex. It includes 65,000 square miles of airspace, nearly 2,500 square miles of land space and 42,000 square nautical miles of surface, subsurface and overlying airspace in the Gulf of Alaska.
The opportunity for forces to practice interoperability with all branches of the military gives NE17 participants a chance to practice the tactics, techniques and procedures that would be needed to fight in such a vast Pacific Ocean theater.
Being able to train against potential adversaries ensures we are ready to fight anytime and anywhere.