As with all training and operational events, the U.S. military would not be successful without a total force and joint effort, and Northern Edge 2015 is no different.
Reserve units such as the 507th Air Refueling Wing, based out of Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, and the 459th Air Refueling Wing, based out of Andrews AFB, Maryland, are vital to the overall mission of the Air Force and especially to training exercises such as Northern Edge.
Our job is to supplement the active duty forces during this exercise so they can fly more and longer missions,” said Air Force Capt. Shawn R. Tucker, a KC-135 Stratotanker pilot with the 465th Air Refueling Squadron, part of the 507th Air Refueling Wing. “We are a supplementing force and with the operations tempo so high we are getting used quite a bit.”
While participating in exercises or real-world operations, reservists perform just like active duty, explained Tucker, who is from Skiatook, Oklahoma.
“As reservists we're doing everything that active duty does and we’ve been busy,” said Senior Master Sgt. Darby G. Perrin, a KC-135 aerial refueling specialist with 465th ARS. “Whenever we’re out there, we’re refueling anywhere between 10 to 15 aircraft, and they all seem to want to come up at the same time.”
Exercises like Northern Edge where every branch of the military takes part helps build teamwork between the joint-forces, said Perrin, who is originally from Carbondale, Colorado. Northern Edge helps everyone participating to experience how other units and aircraft work which is something they may not see again until they go to a real operation, Perrin added.
“Eventually we’ll all have to work together, so I think that exercises like this with active duty, Guard and Reserve helps us all come together and get on the same page,” said 1st Lt. Chris A. Nutt, a KC-135 pilot with the 465th ARS.
Northern Edge is Alaska’s premier joint training exercise designed to practice operations, tactics, techniques and procedures as well as enhance interoperability among the services. Thousands of military members and more than 200 aircraft are involved in the exercise.