Joint Military Exercise Brings 150-Person Contingent to Nome

National Guard members from all over the state, and some from other states, recently descended on Nome for a large-scale military exercise.

Lt. Colonel Eric Marcellus, the joint task force commander, said the exercises were aimed at emergency response in Arctic conditions. Specifically, they were training for a scenario in which Alaska is struck by two major back-to-back earthquakes.

Airmen with the 109th Airlift Wing use barren land survival techniques to build shelter during the last Arctic Eagle exercise in 2020. (Photo by U.S. Air National Guard Technical Sergeant Jamie Spaulding, used with permission.)

Lt. Col. Marcellus and members of his staff visited KNOM’s Morning Show several times during the week of the exercise. One morning, a medical team demonstrated a technology that tracks a soldier’s GPS coordinates and body temperature, to aid in extraction to prevent hypothermia. Another day, the logistics team told listeners about the immense task of feeding and housing the whole force. With 150 soldiers, airmen, and other military personnel housed at the local gym, many community members came out to help cater to their needs.

Some Nomeites were initially concerned about the high number of visitors amid rising coronavirus rates in the community. Others wondered if the exercise, held so close to Russia, had anything to do with the invasion of Ukraine. The colonel said, while a coincidence, it illustrates the need for the exercises perfectly.

“The military is all about preparedness; and preparedness means you are exercising your ability to react. We may need to react to natural disasters, but we may also need to react to threats. And there is a component of the exercise that deals with that,” he said.

Image at top: National Guard members joined listeners during the Morning Show, with daily discussions about why they were visiting and to give advance warning of any disruptions around town.