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Logistics; careful planning prepares Northern Edge 2006

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Northern Edge 2006, a joint training exercise held by Alaskan Command, kicked off Monday, at Eielson Air Force Base, but not without the help of some careful planning.

“This is ALCOM’s exercise,” said Capt. Matthew Watson, Northern Edge 2006 project officer. “We are here to assist the building and execution of Northern Edge 2006.”

According to Watson, setting up for the exercise is like a football game. Alaska Command is the National Football League commission, Cope Thunder provides the stadium and the referees, and the units are the teams.

“It all boils down to basically, we make sure the field is painted, the grass is cut, and everybody is following the rules,” he said. “We make sure that everybody is ready to come here and train.”

Red Flag Alaska is in charge of making sure that all participants receive computer accounts, security badges, and billeting as well as schedule flights and make sure that all 66,000 square miles of Eielson is utilized for the exercise.

Approximately 700 security badges and computer accounts have been given to Airmen, Marines, Sailors, and soldiers at Eielson alone, said Capt. Michael Clark, Northern Edge 2006 project operations officer.

The 35-year-old Philadelphia, Penn. native said that while project operations is in charge of helping getting Eielson up and running for the exercise, they do have a detachment at Elmendorf Air Force Base to coordinate with ALCOM and schedule events taking place during Northern Edge.

“We (Eielson) make sure that we are ready and setup tactically because we are the local and know everything about the flight line and the airspace here,” said Clark. “This is ALCOM’s show but we’re the ones hosting a majority of the scenarios.”

Planning through Range Division will allow different scenarios to take place in the air space over Eielson.

“We make sure it is safe to perform these missions over our air space,” said Tech Sgt. Tom Davis, noncommissioned officer in charge, air instrumentation, Range Division. “We track the aircrafts by radar and satellite to make sure that they are doing everything properly. We also watch to see if the shot that they targeted correctly, shot accurately and if they were on target.”

Intelligence makes sure the war scenarios are played out according to plan. There will be surface-to-air-missiles threats, air to air threats, and ground targets that the participants will have to engage, said Senior Master Sgt. Dan Hudson, superintendent, Red Flag.

“They’re making sure everything is as realistic as they can be,” said the 45-year-old, Duncan, S.C. native. “This exercise is basically to prepare to deploy to combat situations. We have to mesh well together because we’re going to deploy together, fight together, and work together.”
Though the exercise is underway, there were problems that occur whenever a unit takes part in an exercise.

“Some difficulties that we have putting this together is that units think that they are on temporary duty here,” said Capt. Shawnn Martin, exercise support divisions chief. “The people want to operate as if they were on their home base and not on Eielson. We need to get everybody on the same page instead of everybody being separate. We need to make them cohesive.”

With every service training together in this exercise, this will prove to be a great experience for everybody involved.

“There’s a lot of interesting units here right now,” said Lt. Col. Eddie Osteen, commanding officer, 353 Combat Training Squadron. “This is the first exercise the F-22s are participating in an exercise. Having the Navy, Marine Corps, and active Air Force and Air National Guard is good training. There are a lot of good components taking part in this exercise and it should be a great experience.” (Courtesy of Pacific Air Forces)