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JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – During a planning conference this week at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Alaskan Command and representatives from subordinate commands of U.S. Pacific Command, finalized a community engagement plan that will be executed over the next six months to exchange information about Exercise Northern Edge to the residents of Alaska.
Northern Edge is a biennial training exercise conducted in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, which includes area within the Gulf of Alaska, as well as land and airspace within the state.
The next Northern Edge exercise is scheduled to occur in May 2017 and includes participation from Alaskan Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Marine Corps Forces Pacific and U.S. Army Pacific, among others. The exercise is planned to include approximately 170 aircraft and two naval ships.
During the next six month of community engagement outreach events, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Alaskan Command representatives will provide information about the Northern Edge exercise, answer questions on planned training activities and share steps being taken to reduce risks and to mitigate for any environmental impacts.
“Outreach is critical for listening to concerns and answering community questions about Northern Edge,” said Lt. Gen. Ken Wilsbach, Alaskan Command commander. “We want to assure residents that protecting the environment is a top priority and a vital part of our training and implementation plan. We also need the public to know that Northern Edge provides invaluable, vital hands-on training to prepare our troops for the joint land-air-maritime environment.”
The community engagements include city council and chamber of commerce meetings and presentations with the cities of Cordova, Homer, Kodiak and Seward, the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council Meeting, Alaska Marine Science Symposium, Alaska Forum on the Environment and ComFish.
Environmental protection is an integral part of the exercise. The military in Alaska has conducted thorough environmental analysis of the activities being conducted as part of NE17. Alaskan Command is proud of its environmental stewardship and goes to great lengths to minimize harm to the environment. Aerial and land-based military training activities in or near Alaska, including Northern Edge exercises, are analyzed in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex Environmental Impact Statement, which was completed by the Air Force and Army in 2013. For maritime activities, future Northern Edge exercises were re-analyzed in the Navy’s 2016 Gulf of Alaska Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement recently released (https://goaeis.com).