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News | May 9, 2007

You Can Sleep Uninterrupted …Alaska National Guard Stands up Joint Operations Center

By Sgt. 1st Class Jack Holt 29th Infantry Division, Virginia Army National Guard

The Alaska National Guard is in the midst of a crisis, a practice crisis. Emergency response is what they do best because they practice.

More than 200 National Guard Citizen-Soldiers are on duty all across Alaska training in disaster response for the exercise Alaska Shield/Northern Edge 2007.

In the Joint Operations Center (JOC) at the Alaska National Guard Armory Joint Forces Headquarters - Alaska "it's more like a melding of the minds," said Air National Guard Col. John Griffin, commander of the 168th Air Refueling Wing of the Alaska Air National Guard. "The nation is banking on the Guard, and you can sleep uninterrupted."

The JOC is where liaison officers come together in a concerted effort to get help down range to the incident commander. "These folks are professionals," said Alaska Air National Guard Col. Wendy Wenke, the officer in charge of the JOC. "Give them a room, give them a computer and they're off and running."

In preparation for the exercise that is in progress over the next few weeks - in conjunction with other National Guard disaster training exercises occurring simultaneously in Indiana and Rhode Island - some planned changes were rapidly implemented.

"Our old JOC was one-third the size and in another location," Wenke said. "We knew what we had was inadequate in size and proximity to the State Emergency Coordination Center, so we took an old break room, and in 90 days converted it to our Joint Operation Center."

The Alaska Shield/Northern Edge 2007 exercise continues through May 18.