JBER conducts annual Polar Force exercise

U.S. Air Force Airmen from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson exercise a mock deployment preparation, April 7, 2016.  JBER is host to air, space, and cyberspace systems which may be deployed or employed to support and defend the U.S. interests and those of our allies.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Richardson)

U.S. Air Force Airmen from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson exercise a mock deployment preparation, April 7, 2016. JBER is host to air, space, and cyberspace systems which may be deployed or employed to support and defend the U.S. interests and those of our allies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Richardson)

U.S. Air Force Airmen from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson exercise a mock deployment preparation, April 7, 2016.  JBER is host to air, space, and cyberspace systems which may be deployed or employed to support and defend the U.S. interests and those of our allies.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Richardson)

U.S. Air Force Airmen from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson exercise a mock deployment preparation, April 7, 2016. JBER is host to air, space, and cyberspace systems which may be deployed or employed to support and defend the U.S. interests and those of our allies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Richardson)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska --

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson kicked off Polar Force 16-4 April 4, signaling the start of its annual two-week exercise designed to test JBER's wartime operational limits.

The exercise tests the installation in conducting deployments, receptions, noncombatant evacuations and employment operations, said Brad Harris, 673rd Air Base Wing inspection planner.

"A typical Polar Force exercise is developed in a two-week window," Harris said. "It enables the [inspector general] and the [wing inspection team] members to build an exercise and execute it within that two-week window and evaluate it in several areas. Usually, the first week consists of deployment receptions and noncombatant evacuee operations, and the second week we roll into the employment phase where we are evaluating members on [chemical, biological, radiation and nuclear defense] and self-aid buddy care."

However, each exercise is individually tailored to meet the installation commander's priorities, Harris said.

About 90 days before the exercise, the group commanders meet with the IG office and begin to develop and coordinate each unit's needs to meet the commander's objectives.

Regular operational exercises ensure maximum readiness to deploy across the installation. By working out the kinks during the exercise, JBER can respond smoothly and efficiently when it's go-time, said Air Force 2nd Lt. Kelly Lefler, chief of customer support for the 673rd Force Support Squadron.

In the first week of PF 16-4, the 673rd Air Base Wing tested its ability to efficiently deploy and accommodate noncombatant evacuees as well as to facilitate the Army's Large Package Week exercise taking place simultaneously.

"Polar Force 16-4 is important, because we learn so much, so when we get that call and we have to go - we're ready," Lefler said.