ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The U.S. Army Alaska is conducting a major deployment readiness exercise across the state. It aims to test the capabilities of the Army and Air Force to work together with supporting state agencies. However, Thursday afternoon's weather had slowed the exercise with whiteout conditions seen at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base.
Lt. Col. Martyn Crighton, a public affairs spokesperson with U.S. Army Alaska, said a "deployment exercise of this scale is not something we’ve done in quite a long time."
The goal of the exercise, known as Arctic Thrust, is to rapidly deploy two battalions from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team by road, rail and air. Two branches of the military needed to work with the Alaska Railroad, in order to quickly move the soldiers with only 48-hours warning – a vital aspect of being "available for worldwide deployment at a moment’s notice."
Half of the forces being moved were coming by air, and the other half by road and rail. Crighton said the rail cars had to be delivered to Fort Wainwright at the right time, and in the right order, so soldiers could load them for deployment.
Crighton added the air operations had slowed Thursday afternoon, because this was a training mission and there were arctic conditions seen in Fairbanks. He explained that safety was paramount, and effectively there was a weather hold on the planes flying to Anchorage. However, Crighton said that if this was a real combat situation, then the "parameters" of deployment would necessarily change.
The number one priority for the U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Mark A. Milley is readiness, according to Crighton.
"The only way units can be truly ready is to put them through rigorous, realistic training – to learn and generate the experience and the proficiencies to be in fact ready: to deploy, to fight and to win."