‘Quite an Influx’: Numerous Army Convoys to Traverse Highway for Big Training Exercise

Sep 26, 2018

Some 6,000 military personnel from Fort Wainwright and Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson will deploy next week to the Fort Greely area for a big, two-week field training exercise to test the Stryker Brigade’s combat readiness. And while they’re training on the ground, the Air Force will launch its latest round of Red Flag aerial combat training out of Eielson Air Force Base and Joint Base Richardson Elmendorf.


The Army calls the large-scale training exercise Arctic Anvil. It’s designed to test the mettle of the Fort Wainwright-based Stryker Brigade Combat Team with realistic scenarios and tough adversaries from other units and allied nations.

Soldiers with the Stryker Brigade Combat Team travel by convoy south on the Richardson Highway in July 2016 to ranges around Fort Greely in the lead-up to the first Arctic Anvil exercise. U.S. Army Alaska officials say they plan to reduce traffic congestion on the two-lane highway by scheduling convoys for off-peak hours and maintaining more space between convoys.
Credit U.S. Army/Samantha L. Magers

U.S. Army Alaska spokesman John Pennell says the biennial exercise requires a lot of preparation – and personnel.

“Right around six thousand, when you factor in all the soldiers, the support personnel and everyone involved with the exercise,” he said.

This year’s Arctic Anvil includes a light infantry unit from Canada and observers with a Japanese tank unit. During the three weeks the exercise is under way, they’ll temporarily more than double the population of the area, which includes both Fort Greely and nearby Delta Junction.

“It’s quite an influx into the Delta area,” Pennell said.

That influx will involve numerous convoys of Army vehicles transporting soldiers and materiel from Fort Wainwright to the Donnelly Training Area, south of Greely. Pennell says the convoy traffic will be especially heavy next week and again near the end of October.

“The heaviest days will be the first six to seven days of October, as the units from the 1st Stryker Brigade move into the Donnelly Training Area,” he said. “And then again toward the end of October, between the 21st and the 27th, as they move back to Fort Wainwright.”

Pennell says the Army has been working with the state Department of Transportation to come up with ways to help motorists share the road with clusters of slow-moving Army rigs.

“What we’re looking at is trying to make sure the convoys are moving not during peak hours, when people are going to be commuting back and forth,” he said. “We are trying to get a little bit more space in between convoys.”

Transportation Department spokeswoman Meadow Bailey says the agency is coordinating with the Army to promote safety for motorists and soldiers.

“We’ll also be reducing the speed limit between Delta and just south to Donnelly Dome from 65 miles per hour to 55 miles to hour, during this exercise,” she said.

Bailey says the agency will try to inform motorists about that 16-mile stretch of speed-limit reduction and other temporary traffic-control measures, with signage and online posts.

“We have message boards out, so the traveling public sees those messages,” she said, “and then we’ll also have some social-media posts about it.”

Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team soldiers maneuver their eight-wheeled Stryker rig around on the Yukon Training Area near Fort Wainwright during the 2016 Arctic Anvil. U.S. Army Alaska officials say it was the biggest exercise USARAK had conducted in 15 years.
Credit U.S. Air Force/Justin Connaher

Pernnell says the tempo of Arctic Anvil operations will be heaviest from Oct. 9 through 20..  He says those will include live-fire exercises with artillery and other ordnance.

He says some of the operations will be conducted jointly with aircraft and personnel participating in the next round of Red Flag, which also gets under way next week. That’s the latest round of the Pacific Air Forces’ aerial-combat training exercises that’ll involve units from both Eielson and Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson.

Red Flag training will take place in the skies above the Joint Pacific-Alaska Range Complex, a 65,000-square-mile patchwork of ranges scattered throughout the Interior.

Eielson officials say 60 aircraft and personnel from more than a dozen U.S. units from around the nation and Japan and Korea will take part in this round of Red Flag. Pilots and personnel from South Korea and Finland also will participate.

Editor's note: Officials with U.S. Army Alaska and the Air Force say members of the public who have concerns or complaints about the Army's Arctic Anvil or the Air Force's Red Flag exercises may contact Army or Air Force officials by phone or e-mail:
U.S. Army Alaska – e-mail: john.m.pennell2.civ@mail.mil; phone: (907) 382-6518
Air Force –  via web: www.eielson.af.mil/Contact.aspx; phone: (907) 377-2116 weekday business hours,  (800) JET-NOIS (538-6647) after hours and weekends.