EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- During the last RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) exercise of the year, forces banded together for Arctic Anvil, a military training exercise which took place Oct. 9-21 at the Donnelly Training Area near Fort Greely.
Arctic Anvil is a joint, multi-national, force-on-force training exercise that included live, virtual and constructive elements. The purpose of the training was to prepare the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team for their rotation at the Army’s National Training Center (NTC) in California early next year. The NTC conducts tough and realistic Unified Land Operations to prepare Brigade Combat Teams and other units for combat.
Approximately 6,000 military members from the Alaska National Guard, the U.S. Air Force and the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, collaborated with the U.S. Army during the exercise.
“This is the first time the whole brigade is out in the field at one time exercising mission command, using all of our systems tied together and seeing how the different battalions interact with each other,” said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Barrera, 3rd Battalion 21st Infantry Regiment senior enlisted advisor and warfighter. “Before, it would generally be a smaller scale, but now we have the whole brigade out here executing operations. Other elements such as joint partners and the joint terminal attack controllers are here with us so we can get the close air support from the Air Force.”
The exercise is designed to test military components mentally and physically, but the Alaskan weather and terrain provides a challenge as well.
“We are not into the depths of winter yet, but we are in a transition, so that’s a concern going forward,” said Barrera. “People know their field craft and how to survive and thrive in this environment.”
A company of Canadian soldiers acted as the opposing force during Arctic Anvil to improve the training for both sides.
“Our ties with the Canadian Army are pretty strong,” said Barrera. “They’ve come over for a significant number of our competitions and other training events as well. Having them play OPFOR gives us a different look as opposed to encountering other U.S. soldiers as the OPFOR in the woods.”
This exercise integrates and synchronizes all available assets so when soldiers encounter the enemy, all elements of combat power are brought to a decisive point.
RF-A, the Pacific Air Force’s premier simulated combat airpower employment exercise, corresponded with multiple parts of Arctic Anvil.
“With Arctic Anvil on the ground, they can talk us on to real targets and then have actual entities for checking in and integrating as a joint force,” said Capt. Daniel Thompson, RF-A 19-1 team chief.
Integration during exercises is necessary to maintain readiness for combat and also strengthens the relations between military branches.
“Any operation we conduct isn’t going to be one entity of the military, it will always be a joint fight,” said Barrera. “Particularly up here, we maintain strong ties between us and Eielson.”