JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — The 176th Wing, one of the nation’s largest and busiest Air National Guard wings, today kicked off its participation in Polar Force 19, a base-wide exercise designed to test mission readiness.
“Deploying a military force is a complex operation — many moving parts have to come together seamlessly at the same time,” said Brig. Gen. Darrin Slaten, the 176th Wing’s commander. “That’s why these types of exercises are so valuable: They help ensure that the Alaska Air National Guard can deploy, on very short notice, a powerful force capable of delivering overwhelming combat power in support of U.S. interests anywhere in the Pacific theater.”
The wing will implement Polar Force in two phases.
During Phase 1, the wing practices preparing and deploying its members to a simulated hostile environment. The “deployers” assemble their gear and are run through a series of checks and briefings to prepare them for their upcoming assignments. Their equipment is bundled on pallets and loaded on planes, providing practice for loadmasters and aircrew.
In Phase 2, the wing tests it ability to operate and execute missions within a hostile deployed environment. Wearing helmets, chemical-protection suits and other combat gear, the wing’s men and women evaluate their own ability to successfully execute missions while under attack.
The wing’s participation in Polar Force 19 ends April 5.
“Once the exercise has concluded,” Slaten said, “We will take everything we’ve learned, figure out where our strengths and weaknesses are, and use that information to build an even stronger force.
The citizen-Airmen of the Alaska Air National Guard are Alaskans — we live here,” Slaten added. “It’s inspiring to see these highly trained, highly motivated men and women come together as a team to ensure that we are ready to respond when our nation calls.”