As part of Operation Northern Edge 2007, Airman 1st Class John McCaherty, 3rd Civil Engineer Squadron and Army Specialist Kenty Cruz, 95th Chemical Reconnaissance, operate control panels for an unmanned ground vehicle designed to enter a contaminated area and assess the threat level from a safe distance. This exercise is part of a national-level Ardent Sentry/Northern Edge 2007 -- a joint chiefs of staff-directed, U.S. Northern Command-Sponsored, homeland defense and Defense Support of Civil Authorities exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Garrett Hothan) (Photo by Senior Airman Garrett Hothan)
An unmanned ground vehicle designed to enter contaminated areas, controlled by the 95th CR and 3rd CES, assesses the threat level of contaminants during Northern Edge. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Garrett Hothan)
ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska —
The largest military training exercise in Alaska, Northern Edge 2008, begins May 5 with roughly 5,000 U.S. active duty, national guard, and reserve component Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marine participants.
Alaskan Command hosts the air-centric exercise, which will involve more than 120 Air Force, Army, Air National Guard, Navy and Marine aircraft. It will be conducted mainly from Eielson Air Force Base and Elmendorf AFB using the airspace throughout the Pacific Alaska Range Complex and in the Gulf of Alaska.
NE 08 is a tactical exercise that provides a joint environment to train warfighters for their real-world missions. It will help prepare forces to respond to crises in the Asian Pacific region by practicing operations, techniques and procedures; by improving command, control and communication relationships; and by developing interoperable plans and programs. Participants will practice defensive counter air, close-air support, air interdiction of maritime targets, personnel recovery missions and the opportunity to integrate new weapon systems to evaluate full potential performance.
The exercise is designed to sharpen skills; practice operations, techniques and procedures; improve command, control and communication relationships; and develop interoperable plans and programs, according to Alaskan Command. A joint training event such as NE 08 provides effective, flexible and capabilities-centered joint forces ready for deployment worldwide.
Alaska residents may see and hear increased flying activity during the exercise, which runs through May 16.
Environmental protection is an integral part of the exercise. The Air Force conducted a cumulative assessment of the affects of joint exercise on the environment and through coordination and planning, has done everything possible to mitigate harm to the environment. The Air Force will continue to assess training impacts and take necessary precautions to alleviate any impacts on the environment.
Airframes participating in NE08 include the F-22 Raptor, F-15 Eagle, E-3 Sentry, F-16 Fighting Falcon, KC-135 Stratotanker, HC-130 Combat Talon, B-52 Stratofortress, F/A-18 Hornet, HH-60 Pave Hawk.
Units participating in NE 08 are coming from Hickam AFB, Elmendorf AFB, Kadena AB, Misawa AB, Kulis Air National Guard Base, Nellis AFB, Iwakuni AB, and Fort Wainwright.
Major participating units include 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.
NE 08 is the largest military training exercise scheduled in Alaska this year.