JBER sharpens readiness through exercise Polar Force

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Moises Vasquez
  • 673d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — The 673d Air Base Wing conducted Polar Force, a quarterly exercise designed to test mission readiness and hone Airmen’s skills and techniques in a simulated expeditionary environment, on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Nov. 6 through 8, 2023.

Over the span of three days at multiple locations throughout the installation, Airmen enhanced their ability to facilitate seamless preparation and mobilization of personnel, aircraft and equipment for wartime missions. A key segment of the exercise was testing the Multi-Capable Airman concept, training Airmen to conduct a wide range of military operations.

“We’ve been training augmentees to act as security forces members in the event we need them,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Julissa Contreras, a training instructor assigned to the 673d Security Forces Squadron. “We’re training the [augmentees] on use of force with batons, less-than-lethals, and non-lethals so they can assist security forces with day-to-day operations.”

Augmentees are typically those whose primary duties are not in security forces, Contreras added. This incorporates the Multi-Capable Airman aspect JBER practiced throughout the exercise.

“If we go into a real-world scenario, we activate our augmentees to assist our security forces members when we don’t meet the manning requirements,” said Contreras. “This ties into [Polar Force] because if we are in heightened security measures, we need more manning on the entry control points, which is part of their training during this exercise.”

U.S. Air Force Maj. Adrian Becker, chief of Agile Combat Employment integration with the 673d Air Base Wing Planning Office, oversaw operations at JBER’s Camp Madbull with many other Airmen to simulate a deployment to an austere environment and practice their ability to execute Multi-Capable Airman skills.

“The purpose of this exercise is to practice Agile Combat Employment for operations in the future,” said Becker. “We’ve had the entire wing set up their different ACE training environments. The Airmen out here with me were specifically tagged by name to be a part of a spoke package. They’re getting a lot of teamwork experience together along with specific skills.”

ACE is a proactive and reactive operational scheme of maneuver executed within threat timelines to increase survivability while generating combat power. It uses a “hub and spoke” method, in which a major port (hub) serves as a central point from which cargo is moved to and from several radiating points (spokes) to increase transportation efficiencies and in-transit visibility. It provides commanders maximum flexibility to rapidly maneuver forces and materiel based on each spoke’s needs.

Becker said Polar Force showcases the range of capabilities JBER brings to the Air Force. Phase one is getting the appropriate personnel and cargo ready to deploy, while phase two is establishing a small operating base with communications systems utilizing both radio and satellite technology able to reach headquarters (the “hub”), along with sustainable refueling capabilities, and phase three is defending the base.

All phases in this iteration of Polar Force demonstrated JBER’s capabilities to operate in a contested, degraded, or operationally limited environment in support of a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility, as well as home station sustainment of operations such as elevated force protection conditions and testing of physical security protocols.