News: Supplying the Last Frontier
Story by Spc. True Thao
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Alaska Shield 14 officially began March 27, 2014, as a simulated earthquake struck the state of Alaska. Military, federal, state and local agencies from across the nation came here to participate in this exercise, which is modeled after the 1964 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated most of Alaska. With more than a thousand participants, planning for this statewide exercise took more than a couple of phone calls. It took a lot of coordination with the different levels of agencies to ensure all necessities were on hand.
"This type of exercise is planned a year and a half prior to the event," said U.S. Air Force Col. Kendra Mathews, director of logistics with Joint Task Force - Alaska and Alaska Command.
With an exercise of this nature, bringing in supplies from the lower 48 states is something that can be done if needed. Using local assets, however, is a more viable option that would be more cost effective to JTF-Alaska.
"There is a base support installation check list that we send to each of our locations," said Mathews. "We try to find it in state before we go out of state."
Some of the facilities that were rearranged for exercise purposes were the Elmendorf Fitness Center and Hangar 5, which each ultimately housing more than 100 service members participating in the exercise. Cots were set up in rows to ensure that the service members would have a place to sleep in order to perform their task.
"We were able to repurpose some of our facilities in order to make use of them for this purpose," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel J. Knight, deputy commander of the 673rd Mission Support Group here.
JTF-Alaska also rearranged food programs in order to ensure that all participants were getting fed throughout the exercise. This included using a vacant dining facility and bringing in a containerized kitchen to use if necessary.
Any equipment that wasn't on hand was brought in by Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore through the Port of Anchorage, Alaska. Equipment that was brought onto shore from the lower 48 states included food, satellite communications equipment, and containerized kitchens.
Coordination between the different levels of agencies takes a lot of time and effort. These exercises have proven to be a good learning experience for all agencies planning and participating in them.
"We stuck through that entire process understanding what the requirements will be," said Knight. "We've learned a lot about all of our contingency capabilities."
With Alaska Shield 14 ongoing, JTF-Alaska will continue to supply all the necessary equipment needed for this exercise. Meeting the logistical need of the agencies will ensure that everyone can perform their task and help local citizens prepare for catastrophic events similar to the one that occurred 50 years ago.