Alaska: U.S. military exercise implements new doctrine to confront Russia in the Arctic
Rick Rozoff

The large-scale Northern Edge war games commenced a week ago in and off the coast of Alaska. An estimated 15,000 service members from the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy are participating in the two-week event along with six ships and 240 aircraft. The Air Force’s newest fighter jet, the F-15EX Eagle ll, is among the warplanes deployed for the exercise. Northern Edge is its maiden flight in terms of military drills. The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, an amphibious ready group and embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are also involved .

Stars and Stripes’ account of the exercise, which it terms massive, is titled Joint exercise of US forces in Alaska mimics ‘what future conflict could feel like.’ The word mimic is perhaps intentionally misleading. Rehearsing for future conflicts would be more to the point. Rehearsing for future conflict with Russia would be more accurate yet.

Several major air and infantry bases are employed for the exercise: at least two air bases and three international airports.

The exercise is conducted by Indo-Pacific Command, and its lead planner, an Air Force colonel, in speaking of the superiority of Northern Edge over other exercises said the following:

“Typically training happens within units in their own services, so an Air Force squadron will train with other Air Force squadrons either at its regional base or somewhere nearby. But you never really get the volume or complexity that you would expect to see in a modern-day conflict.”

U.S. Navy describes its nature as to provide “high-end, realistic war fighter training, develop and improve joint interoperability, and enhance the combat readiness of participating forces.”

This year’s exercise is multi-service, as mentioned above. Stars and Stripes stated it will “increase the nation’s combat readiness and the ability for the four services to work together in an actual conflict.” As it is also designed to “train and equip soldiers to operate and fight in extreme cold for extended periods,” the number of adversaries against which the Pentagon is preparing to engage in actual conflict is not large. In fact the number is one: Russia.

As the newspaper mentions, this year’s Northern Edge occurs shortly after the release of U.S. Army’s 48-page planning document, Regaining Arctic Dominance, which states in part:

“While most Arctic nations are U.S. allies, America’s great power competitors – Russia and China – have developed Arctic strategies with geopolitical goals contrary to US interests. Russia seeks to consolidate sovereign claims and control access to the region. China aims to gain access to Arctic resources and sea routes to secure and bolster its military, economic, and scientific rise.”

In a section titled Project Power Across the Arctic, the document states, “The Army will improve the materiel readiness of Arctic-capable units to conduct extended operations in the region, in part with ongoing war games like Arctic Warrior and Arctic Edge conducted with NATO allies.”

And Northern Edge.