Story by A1C Caitlin Russell on 05/29/2019Approximately 10,000 United States Airmen, Marines and Sailors journeyed back to their respective home stations following participation in Exercise Northern Edge 2019 (NE19), May 13-24, 2019.
The fully integrated, large-scale exercise provided realistic and comprehensive joint training opportunities in and around Alaskan land and airspace, as well as in and above the Gulf of Alaska. NE19 participants trained on defensive counter-air, close-air support and air interdiction of maritime targets.
"The exercise has given us the confidence that when presented with a tough scenario, we'll fight through it and dominate it," said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Daniel Heires, Northern Edge 2019 exercise director. "It is important for all of our joint partners to be able to train to current and future developing capabilities in a robust combat operational environment, so that we'll be able to respond to any crisis at a moments notice."
The training during NE19 benefits all participants, and provides service members a chance to prove they are ready to face any contingency. This year, the exercise also included the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt as a participant.
"We cannot understate the importance of having the carrier as part of the exercise," Heires said. "The carrier strike group is an essential part of our power projection but no force fights alone. You have to integrate it with the air components, and applicable land components. So, having the carrier here has allowed us to focus on how we integrate the carrier in a full spectrum operation."
With the joint training completed, exercise leadership will use the information gathered to measure the current combat capabilities. The analysis determines how well the services integrated and equipment performed in the Alaskan environment. The information is then used in joint publications that all the services use to improve interoperability.
Aircrews completed more than 1,400 sorties, spent 3,900 hours flying and delivered approximately 15.1 thousand gallons of fuel throughout the exercise.
"Northern Edge, first and foremost, is used to replicate our most challenging Indo-Pacific theater scenarios," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ty Bridge, Pacific Air Forces exercises division deputy division chief, assigned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. "To be able to perform joint interoperability, tactics and procedures, and to be able to utilize the entire capabilities available to the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex and Gulf of Alaska."
Bridge said the goals for the exercise were to assess advanced equipment and future operations, and to put those plans through significant rigor to ensure that what is being proposed is effective and allows service members to hone their skills.
Major participating units included U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Marine Corps Forces Pacific, Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command, Air Force Materiel Command, U.S. 3rd Fleet, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and U.S. Naval Reserve.
Exercise Northern Edge is one in a series of exercises that enables joint forces to better prepare for potential future crises in the Indo-Pacific region.
"My confidence in our future ability to dominant the air, land and sea fight, have never been higher," Heires said.