JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, ALASKA – Approximately 6,000 U.S. military personnel will participate in exercise Northern Edge 2015, a joint training exercise hosted by Alaskan Command scheduled for June 15-26, 2015, on and above central Alaska ranges and the Gulf of Alaska.
NE15 is one in a series of U.S. Pacific Command exercises in 2015 that prepares joint forces to respond to crises in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The exercise is designed to sharpen tactical combat skills, improve command, control and communication relationships, and to develop interoperable plans and programs across the joint force.
Personnel from U.S. military units stationed in the continental United States and from U.S. installations in the Pacific will participate with approximately 200 aircraft from all services, as well as three U.S. Navy destroyers and one U.S. Navy submarine operating in the Gulf of Alaska. Most personnel and units will deploy to and operate from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Eielson Air Force Base. Participants will serve as part of a joint task force practicing tasks associated with joint operations.
Major participating units include U.S. Pacific Command, Alaskan Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Pacific Air Forces, Marine Corps Forces Pacific, U.S. Army Pacific, Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command, Air Force Materiel Command, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command and U.S. Naval Reserve.
NE15 is the largest military training exercise scheduled in Alaska this year with virtual and constructive participants from all over the U.S. exercising alongside live players.
Environmental protection is an integral part of the exercise. The military in Alaska has conducted thorough environmental analysis of the activities being conducted as part of NE15. Alaskan Command is proud of its environmental stewardship and goes to great lengths to minimize harm to the environment. Aerial and land-based military training activities in or near Alaska, including Northern Edge exercises, are analyzed in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex Environmental Impact Statement, which was completed by the Air Force and Army in 2013 (see http://www.jber.af.mil/jparc.asp). For Naval activities, Northern Edge exercises are analyzed in the Navy’s 2011 Gulf of Alaska Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) (www.goaeis.com). The at-sea portions of Northern Edge occur within the Temporary Maritime Activities Area. . The TMAA’s northern boundary is located approximately 24 nautical miles south of the shoreline of the Kenai Peninsula, which is the largest proximate landmass. The only other shoreline close to the TMAA is Montague Island, which is located 12 nm north of the TMAA. The approximate middle of the TMAA is located 140 nm offshore. The closest point of the TMAA to Cordova is approximately 80 nm southwest of the town. The TMAA was designed to avoid critical habitats and although it does not avoid all fish and marine mammal habitats, the activities are infrequent and widely dispersed throughout the TMAA.
The Navy’s training activities are conducted with an extensive set of range clearance and mitigation measures designed to minimize the potential risk to marine life. U.S. Navy vessels also conduct range clearance and mitigation measures designed to avoid damage to participating and non-participating vessels and aircraft. The Navy has conducted Northern Edge and other training and testing activities in the Gulf of Alaska for many decades without major harm to the environment. For future exercises beyond 2016 the Navy is currently in the process of preparing a Supplement to the original 2011 EIS and is seeking renewal of permit authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act.
The Navy is a major supporter of research that includes developing methods to detect and monitor marine species before and during training and understanding the effects of sound on marine mammals, sea turtles, fish and birds. The U.S. Navy sponsors 70 percent of all U.S. research concerning the effects of human-generated sound on marine mammals and 50 percent of such research conducted worldwide. When the Navy uses active sonar it operates the sonar at the lowest practicable level except as required to meet tactical training objectives.
A joint training event such as NE15 provides effective, flexible and capabilities- centered joint forces ready for deployment worldwide and enables real-world proficiency in detection, identification and tracking of units at sea, in the air and on land, and response to multiple crises.
For any questions, please contact Alaskan Command Public Affairs at (907) 552-2341, firstname.lastname@example.org.