Exercise Northern Edge on schedule for May

Lt. Col. Tim Bobinski, of Alaskan Command/Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, discusses Northern Edge 17, a joint military training operation scheduled for the Gulf of Alaska May 1-12, 2017, with the Cordova City Council and the public on Dec. 7, in the Cordova Center. Photo by Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson/The Cordova Times

Exercise Northern Edge 2019 is on schedule for May, with details still being worked out, but the operation is expected to be similar in size to Northern Edge 2017, military officials said Jan. 16. That would include approximately 6,000 military personnel, 200 aircraft and three U.S. Navy vessels, said Master Sgt. George Maddon. Of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, in Hawaii.

“We are working to engage with the local communities to discuss the exercise,” Maddon said in an email response to questions. “We are deconflicting schedules to see what matches best with our team members and each potential engagement.”

Maddon’s comments on the biennial war games came in response also to a statement from the Eyak Preservation Council, noting that last summer they learned that the war games in the Gulf of Alaska were scheduled for May 13-24, when salmon are returning to the region and commercial fisheries are beginning.

Carol Hoover, executive director of EPC, said the council was aware that the second of three major internal planning sessions for NE19 was planned for early February, and voiced concern for the scale of the operation. The council has sent a letter to the newly appointed commander of the Pacific Fleet, Adm. John Aquilino, who has ultimate authority over the exercise, Hoover said. The letter conveys three requests to Aquilino, she said.

They are to ensure personnel planning and executing NE19 adhere to the environmental impact statement limits on maximum number of vessels, that the direct the number of vessels and number and kind of munitions used, be restricted to no more than the quantity and kinds used in 2015 and 2017, and that no operations be conducted within 20 nautical miles of seamounts.