The biennial military exercises prompt great concern from Alaska’s coastal fishing communities about the potential adverse impact on their fisheries and the marine environment. Beyond the actual exercises themselves, these communities want the exercises moved to times when they feel the games are less likely to have a potential adverse impact.
Officials from the Eyak Preservation Council in Cordova said they have learned from military sources that the 2019 exercises in the Gulf of Alaska will be held from May 13 through May 24, right when important salmon fisheries are getting underway in Prince William Sound.
“Although planning is still in the early stages and participants and activities have not been determined, the exercise is expected to be similar in size to Northern Edge 2017, which comprised of approximately 6,000 military personnel, 160 aircraft and three ships,” said Air Force Capt. P. Bryant Davis Jr., director of public affairs for Alaskan NORAD Region/Alaskan Command/11th Air Force, in response to an inquiry on the exercise. Davis declined to give exact dates for the exercise, citing operational security considerations.
The exercises involve several thousand troops from the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy and National Guard who engage in training on land, in the air and at sea over a wide area of Alaska, including the Gulf.