U.S. Northern Command’s exercise ARCTIC EDGE 22 came to a close March 16 across the state of Alaska.
Hosted by Alaskan Command, the bi-national, multi-service exercise is held every two years with roots going back more than five decades to a shared commitment to the defense of North America.
“Each branch of the U.S. military and its allies bring different skill sets to the table in defense of North America,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Frank Rice, commander of the 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, South Carolina Army National Guard. “The joint force interoperability of this exercise shows that in a time of need, U.S. and allied forces can and will rise to any challenge.”
More than 35 units from the U.S. and Canada’s armed services participated in AE22, which focused on providing key realistic and effective training for bi-national land, sea and air forces in the Arctic.
“The Canadian Armed Forces is a key partner in Arctic safety, security, and defense matters,” said Canadian Lt. Col. Jill Lutz, commanding officer of the Canadian Detachment at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. “Through our 24/7 involvement in North American Aerospace Defense Command operations and by participating in exercises such as Exercise AE22, our armed forces remain interoperable with U.S. forces in the Arctic.”
In conjunction with AE22, several different exercises and operations ran in the region, to include; the U.S. Army’s Joint Pacific Multi Readiness Center (JPMRC) 22-02, the Alaska Air National Guard’s Arctic Eagle-Patriot, the Navy’s Ice Exercise (ICEX), NATO’s Cold Response and NORAD’s Operation NOBLE DEFENDER.
ALCOM’s commander, Lt. Gen. David Krumm, spoke about AE22 and how it tied to the other Arctic activities.
“[These exercises] bring us all together as a joint, combined, and allied force to think about how we can defend the Arctic, how we can work together to not just survive up here but thrive and be able to protect our homeland,” Krumm said. “This really is a demonstration of how we can use all these different operations to weave together how we support our countries to protect our nations’ interests and defend our homelands as well.”
AE22 also highlighted a first for Alaska, with the 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC) deploying the Patriot (MIM-104) air defense system and the USS Curtis Wilbur providing command and control for air defense assets in Dutch Harbor.
Another first for the exercise was the participation of the Royal Canadian Navy’s vessel, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Brandon, which worked closely with Coast Guard Sector 17, Juneau and the U.S. Navy to train on mine countermeasures.
“Working with U.S. allies in Alaska waters on Exercise AE22 provided HMCS Brandon and our crew the opportunity to share cold-weather expertise, enhance Arctic warfare interoperability, and forge partnerships with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard,” said Royal Canadian Navy Lt. Cmdr. Mike Wills, HMCS Brandon commanding officer. “I appreciate being the first to command a Royal Canadian Navy vessel for this exercise, and look forward to sharing feedback with my Canadian counterparts as this large-scale exercise grows in scope over the coming years with our increased focus on Arctic sovereignty.”
Overall, Krumm highlighted the success of the exercise and the people it took to make it happen while also looking forward to the future of Arctic cooperation.
“Every single service, every single unit, every single person, they all bring something different to the fight,” said Krumm. “Our nations, both Canada and the United States working together, have done an incredible amount together, and I look forward to the future.”