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Three military exercises scheduled for King Salmon this spring

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U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony
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The Pacific Air Forces Support Center will hold a meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the King Salmon Air Force Station Theater to talk to residents about the exercises.

Three military exercises are set to take place at the King Salmon Air Force station this spring.

That means there may be some new faces around town. Tommie Baker, the tribal liaison officer for the Pacific Air Forces Support Center, said around 100 personnel will participate in each exercise.

“Most of them will stay on the installation for part of their exercise. But if the COVID protocols lighten up a little bit, you're going to see some people coming into the community, and we want to make sure they’re ready," Baker said. "That way, a couple of the restaurants know, so that they can order more food if they need to, the grocery stores can order a couple extra things if they need to. And just for the awareness that you’re going to have extra people out at the installation.”

The Bristol Bay Borough Assembly does not require people who arrive in the community to quarantine. Instead, it recommends that people follow the CDC guidelines to wear masks and social distance in public.

The first event is called Polar Force. It is a Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson exercise tentatively scheduled to begin March 29 and end April 9.

“Part of going out to King Salmon is to simulate the fact that we had to forward deploy some of our aircraft from JBER to another location," Baker said. "King Salmon happens to be what we’re going to use for that exercise scenario.”

The National Guard will conduct the second exercise, Arctic ACE, over five days, from April 11 - 15. Baker said this is an opportunity for the National Guard to practice rescue mission procedures.

“If an aircraft went down somewhere here in the state, how they would deploy their aircraft or their helicopters and C-130s if they had to, to support an exercise, versus just taking off out of JBER here in Anchorage,” he said.

The third, Northern Edge, is what Baker called a “multi-service exercise” that includes the Navy, Army, Marines and Air Force and allows the military to practice operations outside of JBER. Northern Edge takes place every two years at several military bases and local airports around the state. This year, it is scheduled for May 3 - 14.

“Along with King Salmon, there’s going to be some forces out at Cold Bay that are also tied into the Northern Edge, to do the same thing — to show how we would exercise at a couple of different locations, should they have to, instead of just basing all of the aircraft here out of JBER,” Baker said.

The support center will hold a meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the King Salmon Air Force Station Theater to talk to residents about the exercises. Masks and social distancing are required. Those who cannot attend can reach out to Tommie Baker at tommie.baker@us.af.mil or 907-351-2790.

Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.