Archive for May 16, 2021

ARCTIC NATION: Exercise Northern Edge, Monitoring Russian Activities in the High North.


Exercise Northern Edge

An F-15EX fighter jet from the 53d Wing takes off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska in support of joint training exercise Northern Edge 2021.  (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt Savanah Bray)

Approximately 15,000 U.S. service members recently concluded a joint training exercise hosted by U.S. Pacific Air Forces between May 3-14, 2021.

The exercise took place on and above the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, the Gulf of Alaska, and temporary maritime activities area. NE21 is one in a series of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command exercises designed to sharpen Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps joint force skills.

Various units practiced tactics, techniques, and procedures; to improve command, control and communication relationships; and to develop cooperative plans and programs.

Northern Edge provided high-end, realistic war fighter training to develop and improve joint interoperability. It also enhanced the combat readiness of participating forces.

The 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, in Florida, conducted operational tests of the F-15EX fighter jet, which features upgraded computing, sensors and weapons. Northern Edge will be the “first look at large force integration” for the new jet, including with fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighters, the Air Force said.

More than 25 units, almost 200 aircraft and five naval ships — including the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt — participated in Northern Edge 2019.

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) transits the Gulf of Alaska, May 7, 2021, during Exercise Northern Edge 2021 (NE21). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brandon Richardson)

Navy, Air Force and Marine aircraft executed flight missions during NE21 demonstrating seamless, joint combat capabilities. The Roosevelt conducted more than 300 aircraft launches and traps {arrested landings), and embarked squadrons completed more than 830 flight hours during NE21. The Marine Wing Support Detachment, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 164 (Reinforced), established a forward arming and refueling point at Cold Bay — identified as an advanced naval base — to provide around 85,000 pounds of fuel to multiple joint aircraft.

The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) ashore from the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) served as the lead element at Cold Bay. The Makin Island ARG executed various air and amphibious operations from amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), and amphibious transport docks USS San Diego (LPD 22) and USS Somerset (LPD 25) while maneuvering over the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex.

Soldiers wrap up a joint forcible entry operation during Northern Edge at Fort Greely, Alaska, on May 11, 2021. The exercise is designed to improve joint combat readiness.  (U.S. Army photo by Benjamin Wilson)

Army units participating in Northern Edge included the 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) and 3rd Expeditionary Air and Space Task Force from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska.

The 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, conduct a Joint Forcible Entry Operation into Allen Army Airfield during exercise Northern Edge 21. Soldiers from the 17th Field Artillery Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state also joined the drills.

*** ***  ***

Bear Watching

The Air Force general heading U.S. European Command says more Navy destroyers and Air Force strike fighters are what he needs to monitor — and deter — Russia’s aggressive behavior from the Arctic to the Black Sea, your 4GWAR editor wrote for Seapower magazine.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook approaches the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Tide-class replenishment tanker Tidesurge for refueling at sea, Octobeer 18, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Damon Grosvenor)

“I see a concerted effort on behalf of Russia’s maritime forces in the Baltic, in the Barents and Black seas,” General Tod Walters told a Congressional committee April 15 during a hearing on national security challenges and U.S. military activities in Europe.

Improving overall strategic indications and warnings (I&W), as well as command and control (C2), “starts with two destroyers to improve our ability to see undersea and it also culminates with F-35s, Wolters said , referring to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter.

There are four destroyers already based in Rota, Spain, which Wolters described as “the workhorses of deterrence,” projecting U.S. presence into the Mediterranean and Black seas and then back out again and up to the Arctic. Two more, also to be based in Rota, are required because of a consistent increase in Russian undersea activity in the Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom gap. The historic maritime chokepoint in the 20th century is an access lane to the Atlantic Ocean for Arctic-based Russian subs. “The destroyers’ participation in undersea warfare, C2 and I&W is absolutely, positively critical,” Wolters said.

*** *** ***

Marines’ Arctic Mitten Search

The U.S. Marine Corps is looking for new extreme cold weather gear for combat units training to fight in subzero Arctic conditions.

Starting in late February, according to Military,com, Marine Corps Systems Command began looking at the commercial cold weather gear market for new trigger finger mittens, base-layer long underwear and a hat that sounds like a modern version of the beloved GI pile cap, according to three request-for-information solicitations.

A Marine with Marine Rotational Force Europe 21.1 (MRF-E), Marine Forces Europe and Africa, communicates with Leathernecks down range during Exercise Arctic Littoral Strike in Blåtind, Norway, March 30, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal  Patrick King)

The Marines want ideas on a new USMC Trigger Finger Mitten System that will replace the current Extreme Cold Weather Mitten Shell & Liner, according to a March 3 solicitation. Trigger finger mittens offer the warmth of a mitten while featuring a separate trigger finger so combat troops can still fire their weapons.

“The trigger finger design shall enable the wearer to move their first finger independently from the rest of the hand, but if needed move their first finger into the larger finger compartment to warm up as needed,” according to the solicitation, noted.

So far, all three cold weather items are slated to come in the color known as “coyote brown.”



*** *** ***

Nuclear submatine USS Toledo (SSN-769) in the Arctic Ocean 2020. (U.S. Navy Photo by MC1 Michael B. Zingaro)

ARCTIC NATION is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military and environmental developments in the Far North. The 2013 U.S. National Strategy for the Arctic Region described the United States as “an Arctic Nation with broad and fundamental interests” in the region. “Those interests include national security protecting the environment, responsibly managing resources, considering the needs of indigenous communities, support for scientific research, and strengthening international cooperation



May 16, 2021 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment


May 2021


%d bloggers like this: