EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
Distant Frontier, a unit-level training exercise, began here Sept. 21 and will continue until RED FLAG-Alaska 21-1 kicks off in early October.
Distant Frontier provides units an opportunity both before and after RF-A to train in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, drop live and inert weapons, and fight against the 18th Aggressor Squadron’s F-16 Fighting Falcons and surface-to-air threat simulators on the range.
“It provides an opportunity for greater integration, face-to-face mission planning, briefing and debriefing that otherwise would not be possible,” said Capt. Christopher Ellsworth, the RF-A 21-1 team lead.
Distant Frontier also allows units to focus on specific desired learning objectives.
The units training in Alaska for this iteration of Distant Frontier include: the 14th Fighter Squadron from Misawa Air Base, Japan, the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, the Electronic Attack Squadron 132 from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, and the 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.
Distant Frontier will be the second exercise the 354th Fighter Wing has hosted since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in the spring and a key priority for the wing is ensuring the health and safety of all Airmen.
“Our last RED FLAG-Alaska was our first major force exercise under the threat of COVID, and it went very well,” said Master Sgt. Jeffrey F. Marino, the 354th Operations Group first sergeant. “We achieved our training objectives with 260 participants from outside Alaska, together with our Iceman team, with zero participant cases of coronavirus.”
Subject matter experts from across the base came together to evaluate COVID-19 risks and develop lines of effort to reduce the threat while executing the mission.
“The biggest challenge was the creation and implementation of restriction of movement procedures for participants, to not only protect their training mission, but also our community and the growing mission of the 354th Fighter Wing,” said Marino.
The 353rd Combat Training Squadron also developed comprehensive plans to set expectations for visiting personnel while at Eielson. This includes a welcome briefing from the base commander, and accountability procedures to aid contact tracing if a participant becomes COVID-19 positive.
In addition to standard mitigation protocols such as hygiene, social distancing and mask wear, the 354th Force Support Squadron’s Two Seasons dining facility implemented two separate to-go food service lines: one line dedicated to permanent party Airmen and the other for visiting service members.
“It truly takes the entire Iceman team to continue to secure the Arctic with premier fifth generation F-35s while preparing hundreds of service members for the fight during challenging times,” Marino said.
For additional COVID-19 information, current Command Directives and full Restriction of Movement procedures please visit www.eielson.af.mil/coronavirus/.