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NEWS | March 24, 2023

Alaska Guard, Reserve interoperability aid arctic mobilization proficiency

By 1st Lt. Balinda O’Neal 49TH Personnel Detachment (Theater Gateway)

Monotonous beeps reverberated across the Joint Mobility Complex as Soldiers arriving to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson were scanned in for Reception, Staging, Onward movement and Integration ahead of 11th Airborne Division’s Joint Pacific Multi-National Readiness Center-Alaska 23-02 exercise.

The Alaska Army National Guard’s 49th Personnel Detachment (Theater Gateway) and U.S. Army Reserve’s 3301st Mobilization Support Battalion welcomed incoming forces as part of the units’ combined annual training to support the exercise reception center, track incoming personnel, and keep accountability of participants and their equipment March 9-23.

“The Tactical Personnel System allows us to manifest hundreds of people in a matter of minutes,” said Sgt. 1st Class Alexandra Flores, 49th TG noncommissioned officer in charge, who explained that the TPS has a bar code scanning interface that produces the familiar, electronic sound. “We scan each service member’s identification card and produce accountability reports that are exported to 3301st MSB operating the Mayor Cell. Our unit tracked over 523 personnel arriving here.”

The Mayor Cell coordinated transportation from the JMC at JBER or Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport to the reception center, where exercise participants received a welcome brief, temporary lodging, and operational information on forward movement to their exercise venue at Fort Wainwright and the Yukon Training Area.

The briefings included information about meals, lodging, and medical services on base, as well as a cold-weather safety briefing. Flores said that the Guard and Reserve units ran 24-hour operations during the RSOI process.

“I think our small role in the exercise produced lessons learned and will certainly add value to future exercises and ultimately will impact our warfighting capability and success,” said Lt. Col. Tyson Voelkel, commander of the 3301st MSB, who explained his unit’s mission is to support mobilization of all components within the Indo-Pacific Theater. “The pace and scale of our operations grows exponentially each year, and as reservists, we have an obligation and duty to work even harder to stay fit and ready for whatever threats emerge. JPMRC is a great testing ground for all components.”

While supporting incoming troops at JBER, a 3301st MSB liaison officer and two-person Personnel Accountability Team from the 49th TG were forward deployed to Fort Wainwright, 350 miles north of Anchorage near Fairbanks, where they scanned in another 458 personnel using a TPS.

“We also sent two [88N] transportation management coordinators from our unit to Clear Space Force Station to assist the 486th Transportation Detachment with movement control support,” said Flores. “Our 88 Novembers coordinated movements for 114 personnel, 57 [High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles] and 34 trailers via the Parks Highway from JBER to Clear.”

Flores said that the exercise helped the 49th TG execute its mission-essential task requirements to become more efficient and effective. The unit’s primary mission in theater is to provide personnel accountability operations and database inputs as Soldiers enter, transit, and depart theater.

“It allowed us to train our formation and build a ready team to meet the AKNG and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s intent,” said Flores, who deployed as a transportation management coordinator to Kuwait in 2017 and Poland in 2020. “The Guard and Reserve were able to work as one unit, and we were able to capitalize on the unique capabilities of each unit.”

Voelkel said that the coordination of material and troop movements, and executing complex missions utilizing air, land, and sea make military operations multifaceted. Exercises like JPMRC allow all components to test systems, plans and processes in complex environments he said.

“The grit and fortitude required to operate in an arctic environment must be tested and constantly evaluated for the sake of our nation’s security and future,” said Voelkel. “Active duty, Guard, Reserve, and multi-national forces working together shows that anything is possible when we have a purpose, a mission and higher calling that binds us together.”

The exercise will run from March 28 – April 5 around the Yukon Training Area and is designed to test the ability of an airborne infantry brigade to face a near-peer adversary in arctic conditions.

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