EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- When most people think of interior Alaska, they think of uninhabitable terrain, icy snow storms, northern lights, and maybe even that one video from Facebook of a gigantic moose walking down the median of a highway.
What they don’t think of, and likely don’t know, is that interior Alaska is critical to the national and economic security of the United States due to the presence of Eielson Air Force Base, home of the 354th Fighter Wing, and nearby Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC).
The 354th FW’s mission is to provide combat-ready fifth-generation airpower, advanced integration training, and strategic arctic airpower basing; and it does just that.
Every year the 354th FW hosts multiple iterations of RED FLAG-Alaska, a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored exercise which invites joint forces and allies to train in the JPARC
The JPARC is a training range with approximately 77,000 square miles of airspace, 2,490 square miles of land and 42,000 square nautical miles of sea and over- sea airspace. This vast training range allows pilots to replicate and carry out war-like tactics virtually, uninterrupted, and unrestricted.
“Alaska is the only place you can do this,” said Capt. Charles Hohnbaum, the 354th Range Squadron JPARC program manager. “Alaska gives us the space we need because of the open and unoccupied land. We have all the opportunity for lower, faster flying.
Nodding and agreeing with Capt. Hohnbaum, John Karish, 354th Range Squadron range engineer added, “You literally can not do the things we do here anywhere else. We have the space to fly like we’re going to fight.”
From here, any kind of airpower can be launched in any direction to counter immediate threats from the U.S.’s adversaries.
RED FLAG-Alaska helps improve the United States’ relationship and fighting tactics with their joint partners and allied forces. The exercise enhances interoperability; and provides an opportunity for U.S. and partner nation forces to share tactics, techniques and procedures that enable them to work together more quickly and efficiently in the future.
In this iteration of RED FLAG-Alaska, as with any other, the 354th FW’s commitment to providing world-class training opportunities reiterates the value Eielson and the JPARC bring to the fight, literally and figuratively keeping the U.S. on top of the world.