Inside the Gates: Alaska hosts nearly 3,000 troops for US Marines and Navy exercise
U.S. Marines came ashore in Adak as part of the Arctic Expeditionary Capabilities Exercise.
"The exercise was an amazing success," said Rear Adm. Cedric Pringle, who was one of the Navy leaders who oversaw the operation.
Nearly 3,000 Marines and U.S. Navy personnel took part in the drill in Adak and Seward. The exercise prepares U.S. forces to respond to crises in the Indo-Pacific.
"It's a huge part of our global commerce if you will," Pringle said. "And we, as the United States, we can't afford to cede any part of the world."
Alaska presented some challenges to the troops.
"The 45, 50-knot winds we experienced in Adak, those are all learning points for us," Pringle said during a debriefing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. "The 10, 15-foot seas we experienced out there, those are all valuable learning points."
Pringle says the training is important not just for military reasons but also for humanitarian missions.
A magnitude 7.1 earthquake that rocked Southcentral Nov. 30, 2018. Adm. Pringle's 3rd Fleet, stationed out of San Diego, California stood ready if needed.
"Anytime the earth shakes up here, we think about it," he said. "And we're ready to respond in San Diego, 100% of the time I have a ship on stand by ready to render assistance with Marines and sailors onboard should anyone, anywhere along the western seaboard need it."
The Port of Anchorage is where the Marines should have arrived. It suffered a few cracks, but no major damage from the quake.
"God knows if we had to come up in November of last year, that would have been challenging because we didn't know as much then as we do now," Adm. Pringle said.
His troops are now better prepared to help those who need it, but also defend the country after their trip to Alaska.
Pringle says it could be two years before the exercise takes place again.
The U.S. Coast Guard also took part in the training. Alaska was considered for the drill after President Trump called off joint-training exercises last year with South Korea.
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