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    NCNG Conducts JTF Operations During AEP22

    NCNG Conducts JTF Operations During AEP22

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Craig Norton | U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Andrews, with the 145th Air Wing, North Carolina...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. 1st Class Craig Norton 

    North Carolina National Guard

    Approximately 45 North Carolina National Guard (NCNG) service members deployed and returned, aboard an NCNG C-17 Globemaster III, from the mild climate of the Old North State to the frigid climate of Alaska to establish and operate a Joint Task Force (JTF) and support other training operations during Exercise Arctic Eagle-Patriot 22 (AEP22) Feb. 23 – March 9, 2022.

    Exercise AEP22 was an Alaska National Guard-sponsored training event involving interagency partners responding to a homeland security and emergency response scenario in and around the Arctic area.

    A JTF is a brigade-sized military element providing command and control for all assigned state military assets supporting civil authorities or a specific incident. It also facilitates the flow of information between the state’s National Guard headquarters and supporting units.

    “We certainly have achieved our objectives,” said U.S. Army Col. Tobin Clifton, the commander of 60th TC. “Our objective, coming here, was the ability to project forward to an unknown location, with a different natural disaster scenario [then what we’re accustomed to supporting in North Carolina] and work with different (federal, state and local) partners to prove we can operate as a JTF.”

    Working with multiple governmental agencies at all levels isn’t something military units or service members have the opportunity to do.

    “This has been huge in giving us the ability to work with multiple states. We have attempted to replicate some of the outside agencies here we have a hard time replicating at home, so it provides us an opportunity to do that. This effort has significantly been a joint effort because of the Air Force [National Guard] presence and the Active-Duty military in Alaska; it’s hard for us to replicate at home,” said Clifton.

    One of those agencies present during the JTF portion of the exercise was a team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Due to the geographic location and modes of transportation for the area, the NOAA team provided invaluable information.

    “The NOAA support has been fantastic,” said Clifton. “Having them actually here on the ground to predict the weather is significant. In Alaska it’s especially significant, the weather changes from spot to spot, so it has a drastic impact on our airlift capabilities. A response like this is heavily dependent on air (fixed and rotary wing) operations.”

    A NOAA representative with extensive knowledge and experience working with other governmental and civilian organizations was impressed by the NCNG’s JTF.
    “The professionalism and condor of the group (JTF-60) have been wonderful,” Jonathan Suk, a warning coordination meteorologist with NOAA. “Exemplary leadership, exemplary comradery and collaboration working internally, but also looking externally as a member of NOAA being integrated into operations with clear, concise information flow so if there is a question or some sort of hurdle that come up and approachable has been top-notch and profession.”

    Professional Growth Opportunities

    The AEP22 exercise also offered professional development and joint operations learning opportunities for NCNG JTF-60 service members. U.S. Army Maj. Christopher Roberts, the sustainment officer for HHC, 60th TC, and Spc. Colin Omelia, a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist assigned to HHC, 60th TC, had positive experiences during the exercise.

    Roberts was plucked from his sustainment duties to be the JTF’s executive officer for a day. An executive officer is equivalent to a chief operations officer. Even though he’s been an officer for several years and is a former U.S. Marine, he learned a lot during the position opportunity.

    “It was a forcing function for me to see what my fellow [joint] staff are capable, what they can bring to a fight and force, make sure we can synchronize to action plans,” said Roberts. “It definitely was interesting. It was a great challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.”

    One specific notional scenario was very impactful during Robert’s executive officer duties. The notional scenario was about a military aircraft crashing on a military installation in Alaska, with approximately 60 Kansas National Guard Soldiers and five active-duty aircrew on board.

    “It (the notional scenario) really forced us to imagine in addition to all the chaos, destruction and death (from a scenario natural disaster), now it really hit home and the notification process of that type of possible catastrophic event,” said Roberts.

    Even junior NCNG service members learned during AEP22 from the opening briefing about the training exercise to first-hand operations within a joint task force.

    “I’ve learned a lot,” said Omeila. “When things are explained from the wider perspective, things begin to make more sense; you understand the why. Having seen this has given more of a perspective of joint operations.”

    Overall, the NCNG’s JTF-60 service members experienced and learned a lot during AEP22. The knowledge will forever stay with these service members, and they’ll be able to pass along their wisdom while supporting the state of North Carolina during future disasters.

    “Our staff has benefited splendidly from this experience,” said Clifton.

    Exercise AEP22 increases the National Guard’s capacity to operate in austere, extreme cold-weather environments across Alaska and the Arctic region. AEP22 enhances the ability of military and civilian inter-agency partners to respond to a variety of emergency and homeland security missions across Alaska and the Arctic.



    Date Taken: 03.11.2022
    Date Posted: 05.16.2022 15:20
    Story ID: 420772
    Location: AK, US

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