News: Working together to re-supply Alaska
Story by Sgt. True Thao
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Service members from across the nation came here to participate in Alaska Shield 14. The exercise commemorates the 50-year anniversary of the 1964 Good Friday earthquake that devastated most of Alaska. Alaska Shield 14 is a state-wide exercise involving military, federal, state and local agencies all working together to prepare supporting agencies, military units and local citizens for catastrophic events.
The Navy worked alongside the Army active duty and reserve units to support local citizens by using ships to transport cargo onto shore. The Navy Cargo Handling Battalion One, out of Williamsburg, Va., was tasked to unload containers from the USNS Mendonca and transfer to smaller vessels like the logistical support vessel and landing craft utility. The LSV and the LCU vessels were operated by various Army units participating in the exercise.
"An exercise like this helps convey the message of what our capabilities are as a joint force," said Lt. Cmdr. Scott Beyer, offload control officer with the U.S. Navy Amphibious Construction Battalion One out of Coronado, Calif., "It's really a great experience."
The joint forces worked closely to move food, military vehicles and other supplies and equipment needed for Alaska Shield 14.
"The type of equipment we can load on the LCU range from cargo containers to military vehicles," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Chris W. Plummer, a boatswain with the 481st Transportation Company, an Army Reserve unit of Port Hueneme, Calif. "We can transport just about anything on these vessels."
The collaborated effort allowed service members to get more familiar with each other, which is vital for success.
"It builds service cohesion and makes everybody work as a team," said U.S. Army Sgt. Ralph Genovese, watercraft operator with the 73rd Transportation Company out of Fort Eustis, Va.
Though this is a simulated exercise, operations are executed as if there were a real catastrophic event. The mission of both the Army and Navy was to resupply local citizens with necessities that will help them recover from such a disaster.
"This exercise lets Alaska and everybody in the whole country know that we are here for them," said Genovese. "We can help them out if we need to."
Building that camaraderie is vital to accomplishing a joint mission. Participating in exercises like Alaska Shield 14 gives service members a chance to come together and work alongside their brothers and sisters from different branches.
Alaska Shield 14 was an unparalleled experience that permitted multiple military branches and agencies to come together and work as one team to support the local communities of Alaska. All who participated gained invaluable experience that will aid real-world efforts in the event that another tragic earthquake strikes again-such as the Good-Friday earthquake 50 years ago.