Army and Air Force personnel and equipment will be out in force over the next couple of weeks throughout the Interior as they engage in two major field training exercises. Soldiers with Fort Wainwright’s Stryker brigade begin a live-fire exercise today, and the Air Force launches its next Red Flag training round Thursday.
That's the sound of the 105mm gun that’s mounted on the eight-wheeled rigs that Stryker Brigade Combat Team soldiers use. And, brigade spokesman Major Dave Mattox says it’s a sound that Delta Junction-area residents will be hearing a lot of over the 10 days, as the soldiers begin live-fire qualification training at a range south of Fort Greely.
“We’re going to have to fire through the night, and part of the day, just because we have to get so many gun groups through in the little bit of nighttime that we have,” he said.
Mattox says residents will be hearing the 105s firing from about 7 in the evening to around 8 a.m. on some nights through Aug. 15th. He says Stryker soldiers must train to gain proficiency at firing the gun both day and night, year-round. And that can be challenging, because of Alaska’s long summer days and winter nights.
“In the summertime,” he said, “we have plenty of daytime, but not a lot of nighttime. And in the wintertime we have plenty of nighttime and not a lot of daytime. So we try to maximize the best of both those days and nights in the early fall and late spring.”
Mattox says this week’s live-fire exercise at the Donnelly Training Area marks the beginning of what he calls an “intense training cycle” to prepare all the Stryker soldiers for the big annual national military training exercise early next year at Fort Irwin in California.
That means motorists will be seeing a lot of Stryker convoys on the Richardson Highway over the next three months.
“You’re going to see a lot of traffic heading to the Yukon Training Area by Eielson as well as the Donnelly Training Center by Greely from now until basically October,” Mattox said.
Mattox says Army Infantry and Cavalry Scouts will again be participating in Red Flag. The scouts will train with Air Force personnel on coordinating air strikes on targets during the exercise.