Pacific Alaska Range: Ideal for large-scale multinational training
AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare has recently released a new publication: "The Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex: Winning the Future Fight" (Torchbearer Issue Paper, August 2013).
This paper explores the Department of Defense’s largest training venue in Alaska – a location uniquely suited to the requirements of 21st century joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational training.
The Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC) enables large-scale joint training not available elsewhere, providing unparalleled opportunities across all domains – land, air, sea, space and cyber.
It allows employment over greater range than most venues and realistically replicates the long distances endemic to joint operations in the Pacific region.
It also provides an uncluttered electromagnetic background for training, testing and developing advanced electronic warfare capabilities.
The JPARC provides significant training capacity and numerous characteristics that make it ideal for realistic preparation for current and emerging threats.
For example, because it is geographically dispersed across Alaska, training opportunities exist in widely varying terrain and weather conditions.
JPARC comprises 2,490 square miles on land with 1.5 million acres of maneuver land, providing the room necessary to simulate complex large-scale engagements as well as diverse and hybrid environments.
It enables a wide range of activities including air assault, airborne and live-fire operations; mounted or dismounted maneuver; response to nuclear, biological or chemical attack; and complex and hybrid urban operations.
More than 65,000 square miles of airspace are available for advanced aviation training. Military and civilian infrastructure (including runways) is robust and enables even the heaviest cargo aircraft.
Eleventh Air Force can complement any training plan with its organic E-3, F-16, F-22 and C-17 aircraft as well as reserve component C-130 and tanker support.
The Gulf of Alaska’s Temporary Maritime Activities Area also provides more than 42,000 square nautical miles of surface and subsurface ocean area and airspace.
This venue supports a host of maritime capabilities including full-spectrum sonar operations, live weapons employment, torpedo operations, live air and surface gunnery, search and rescue, missile defense and sinking exercises.
Since 2009, the JPARC has been an accredited and certified joint national training capability, ensuring that range space and infrastructure are interoperable among the services.
In addition to home-station training for Alaska-based units, JPARC hosts three or four regular large-scale exercises per year. The biggest of these is Northern Edge – a U.S. Pacific Command event that prepares the joint force to respond to crises in the Asia–Pacific region.
The results of major exercises including Northern Edge and others such as Red Flag, Alaska Shield, Vigilant Shield and Ardent Sentry/Arctic Edge demonstrate the strategic requirement for joint training at large venues.
But these exercises – not to mention the facilities improvements required to keep the JPARC modernized – are severely threatened by fiscal uncertainty. Timely, predictable and balanced funding is essential to continue to meet combatant commanders’ requirements now and in the future.