ANCHORAGE — Soldiers from U.S. and Canada have spent much of the last few weeks engaging in war games in expansive interior Alaska, with Iowa National Guard personnel playing the role of the enemy.
Arctic Anvil, which ended this week for about 5,000 soldiers and support personnel, was the largest training held in Alaska in the last 15 or so years, said Brig. Gen. Martin Frank, a member of the Canadian Army and the deputy commanding general for U.S. Army Alaska.
He is the first foreign officer to serve on the U.S. Army Alaska staff.
Among those training were 140 soldiers from the Third Canadian Division, a light armored vehicle company, Frank said.
“We’ve also got about 800 folks from the Iowa National Guard that are participating in the exercise who are playing the role of opposing forces,” he said.
Also on hand were observers from partner nations Japan and Singapore.
The exercise tested the soldiers against two kinds of opponents, insurgents similar to what the forces faced in Iraq and Afghanistan and more traditional foes.
Frank said the troops have to maintain their skills with fighting insurgent forces.
“But we also have to be capable of defeating a near-peer enemy who might be equipped with tanks, with unmanned aerial vehicles, with aircraft, with all the things that we have so that we are ready to fight and ready to win regardless of what kind of opposing force or kind of adversary we come against,” Frank said.
The exercise was intended to prepare the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Fort Wainwright, near Fairbanks, for an upcoming rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.
The training also included soldiers from the 52nd Aviation Regiment.
Frank called the exercise a success. “I’ve seen an exponential increase in the capability and the readiness of the 1st Stryker Brigade, and in large part this is due to the command climate, the perspective of the commanders on the ground, and the soldiers on the ground, wanting to learn, wanting to become better,” he said.
The training scenario, equipment and technical expertise were provided by the 196th Infantry Brigade’s Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Capability, and this was the first time they have provided the training outside its home base in Hawaii.
This story has been corrected to changes the location of the National Training Center to Fort Irwin, California.