Northern Edge is Alaska's premier joint training exercise designed to practice operations, techniques and procedures, and enhance interoperability among the services. Participants from all the services, airman, soldiers, sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from active duty, reserve and National Guard units are invited to participate.
Northern Edge evolved over the years from Jack Frost, Brim Frost and Arctic Warrior exercises. The first Northern Edge exercise kicked-off in 1993. This exercise was scaled in comparison. ALCOM designed it to be an internal training event for the headquarters and component headquarters staffs. They emphasized the two-tier joint task force concept by focusing on joint operations, campaign planning and logistics planning.
Jack Frost 1975-1977 & 1979
The first of these was Jack Frost 75, an Alaskan Command sponsored exercise, which ran from January 7 to February 14, 1975. Jack Frost 75 focused on joint operations and training in an arctic environment. Jack Frost 76 marked the beginning of the exercises sponsored by the US Readiness Command.
Jack Frost 77- conducted from January 5 to February 3, 1977- exercised command and control techniques and procedures for joint task force operations. Later that year, US Readiness Command learned that the nickname, Jack Frost, was prohibited by JCS publications. The command received approval for the name Brim Frost. The final Jack Frost exercise ran from January 10 to February 15, 1979.
Brim Frost 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987 & 1989
Brim Frost 81 ran from January 13 to February 14, 1981 and was sponsored by US Readiness Command. Brim Frost 83 was conducted from January 10 to February 11, 1983. Brim Frost 85 began December 10, 1984 and concluded January 24,1985, with more than 18,000 military troops participating. All three of these operations exercised the ability of Joint Task Force Alaska to conduct winter operations.
Brim Frost 87 involved more than 24,000 active and reserve Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy personnel. More than 143 Air Force aircraft, 130 Army aircraft, and five major Coast Guard cutters employed during Brim Frost 87. Brim Frost 89, sponsored by Forces Command, involved more than 26,000 troops with a cost of $15 million. This exercise involved numerous communications initiatives such as AWACS, satellites, and electronic intelligence.
Arctic Warrior 1991
Arctic Warrior 91 replaced the Brim Frost exercises with the reestablishment of Alaska Command in 1990. It also transferred the exercise sponsorship from Forces Command to Pacific Command. The exercise ran from January 25 to February 6, 1991. It featured live fire and had more than 10,000 troops participating. Lt Gen Thomas G. McInerney, ALCOM commander, noted that the live fire was ".unlike anything achievable in the lower 48 because of the extensive air and land space open to the military."
Northern Edge 1994
The Northern Edge 94 field training exercise ran from March 11 to March 18, 1994. This exercise, considerably larger than 1993, involved more than 14,600 military personnel. ALCOM activated the joint task force Northern Edge in response to a simulated National Command Authority mission that provided forces to conduct peace enforcement operations. Northern Edge 94 was the first of its kind for Alaska. Previous exercises focused on the war-fighting mission. This exercise took the "whole war" concept into consideration. To add realism, the Red Cross, International Medical Corps, Feed the Children and other non-government agencies participated. Financially, Northern Edge 94 received a special $5 million congressional appropriation.
Northern Edge 1995
Northern Edge 95 consisted of three phases, running from April 17 to May 26,1995. Once again, more than 14,600 military personnel participated in the joint exercise. This exercise tested and validated ALCOM's ability to field a deployable joint task force. Lt. Gen. Lawrence Boese, ALCOM commander, stated, "We have a new mission-to be prepared to deploy rapidly as a JTF and conduct joint military operations." Northern Edge 95 integrated Cope Thunder 95-2 into the exercise, a first. This was done to minimize the funding impact and to better use available transportation. Additionally, the U. S. Third Fleet provided a cruiser/destroyer group battle staff.
Northern Edge 1996
Northern Edge 96, conducted in three phases, involved more than 9,000 military troops. Once again, ALCOM planners linked Cope Thunder 96-3 during the field-training phase. Unfortunately, dry conditions and wildfires imposed restrictions on many of the military maneuvers. General Boese, ALCOM commander, commented on the merger of Northern Edge and Cope Thunder, "I believe we gain great synergy by merging Cope Thunder with Northern Edge. It is a win-win arrangement that I plan to continue."
Northern Edge 1997
Northern Edge 97, with more than 9,000 U.S. and allied airmen, soldiers, sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from active duty and national guard forces, divided its field training into two parts, held in different locations. Major air and ground maneuvers were held at Fort Greely. The naval harbor defense portion was held at Seward, Alaska. Northern Edge 97 integrated with Cope Thunder 97-1, once again to maximize all available resources. Planners focused on night high-tech activities, air interdiction, deep strike missions and the land maneuver forces during conventional ground combat. Northern Edge planners ensured the focus was on joint operations.
Northern Edge 1998
Northern Edge 98 kicked off with a mass airborne drop of 600 troops in training areas southeast of Fairbanks, while maritime forces began protecting the harbor in Ketchikan. The mock town of Simpsonville was used for joint live fire exercises, which became a pivotal part of the field training. Apache helicopters supported a brigade air assault and more than 1,200 sorties assisted air operations. The USS Ingraham was the high value unit for the port security portion of the exercise and the U. S. Marine Corps Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) was the main defender.
Northern Edge 98 focused on military peace enforcement operations and features the full range of service capabilities including an airborne mass jump with 500 soldiers, a brigade air assault supported by Apache helicopters and more than 1,200 sorties to support air operations. The scenario showcases a new Joint Live Fire Range using live ordnance from F-16 and A-10 aircraft as well as 155mm and 105mm Artillery and AH-64 Apache helicopters. This is the first time Apache helicopters have been part of field training exercises in Alaska.
The harbor defense segment tests U.S. Naval Forces Alaska units' ability to deploy to secure and defend a port for use by U.S. forces. Protecting the visiting USS Mount Hood, a Concord California-based Navy ammunition ship, and its 400-man crew is the main objective of the maritime portion of Northern Edge 98. The Marines' one-of-a-kind Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team from Norfolk, Va., is assisting with the harbor defense.
The field exercise goal is to integrate operation techniques and procedures, enhancing the participating units' abilities to work together anywhere in the world.
Major units from Alaska participating in Northern Edge 98 include: HQ Alaskan Command; U.S. Army Alaska; 11th Air Force; U.S. Navy Alaska; U.S. Coast Guard District 17; Alaska Air National Guard and Alaska Army National Guard. Major units from outside Alaska include: 4th Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Carson, Colo.; the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; 1st Marine Division, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; 7th Field Artillery Battalion, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; 44th Fighter Squadron, 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron and 909th Air Refueling Squadron from Kadena Air Base, Japan; and the 62nd Air Mobility Wing, McChord Air Force Base, Wash.
Northern Edge 1999
Northern Edge 99 ran from February 22 to March 16,1999, with more than 10,077 members from the guard, reserve and active duty U. S. military services. Major events during Northern Edge 99 included a night airborne mass jump, a brigade air assault, more than 1,200 air sorties flown, theater missile defense, information operations, harbor defense, and a three-day and -night live fire at Simpsonville. Lt. Gen. Thomas R. Case, ALCOM commander said, "I have never seen any environment that offers more for joint combined training from the individual training level all the way to a full joint task force. We always learn lessons from exercises of this scope."
The scenario for these assaults is based on peace enforcement on the fictional island of Aragon, and is to be carried out under the terms of a United Nations mandate. On this "island" there are three independent nations to include the Republic of Cortina, the People's Democratic Republic of Acadia and the Republic of Victoria, according to intelligence report administration order 99-01. Acadia, a socialist state, and Cortina, a parliamentary democracy, are involved in a border dispute over the mineral-rich Evangeline region that separates them. Cortina rightfully owns the land and has requested aid from the United States in defense against Acadia, who has an aggressive history and shows signs of troop activity. It is the job of our military forces to conduct peace enforcement through humanitarian relief and to conduct conventional light infantry and joint operations to include several joint, live fire exercises.
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