11th Airborne Division wraps up series of exercises for arctic readiness
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Interior Alaska has played host to military personnel from around the state, the country, and the world, which started on March 27.
All have come to Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base, among other spots around the area, to take part in the annual Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center, an exercise to ensure soldiers can operate well in cold and mountainous environments.
Major General Brian Eifler, Commanding General of the 11th Airborne Division, said, “We’ve got a ton of observers that come in. We’ve got Italians and Canadians that are actually in the fight with us, alongside of us.”
“The harshest environment of the climate is arctic, and if you can do it, and if something will work in that environment, you can make it work anywhere,” added Major General Eifler.
Eifler and General Charles Flynn, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Pacific, or USARPAC, held a press conference to discuss the value of these exercises. “The arctic is a competitive space, and it’s competitive for a wide range of reasons, and you can see countries working to increase their competitiveness in that space,” Flynn explained.
Before the event began, a line of military vehicles traveled along the Parks Highway from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (J-BER) up to the Fairbanks area.
An airfield takeover exercise kicked off the proceedings.
The combat training concerns the 11th Airborne Division, which is divided between the two bases. According to Eifler, “Our soldiers are what make our forces here in the 11th Airborne so good, because it takes a different type of soldier to live here, to operate here and to thrive here.”
Around eight thousand personnel are taking part, with the 1/11th Arctic Wolves acting as the opposition force.
Flynn said exercises like this are about “trying to refine how we’re organized, how we train, how we equip, how we operate in this region.”
Along with the soldiers, new equipment is being tested, including cold weather clothing. “Everything from trying new skis to trying field feeding systems for food preparation and cooking and hot meals and stuff like that in the field. We’ve got markedly new snow machines, which we haven’t had in probably several decades.”
The exercise is scheduled to end April 5. At that time, a convoy of military vehicles is expected to return to J-BER.
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