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NEWS | May 7, 2007

You Can Sleep Uninterrupted...

By Sgt. 1st Class Jack Holt

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The Alaska National Guard is in the midst of a crisis, a practice crisis. Emergency response is what they do best because they practice.

Over 200 hundred National Guard citizen-soldiers are on duty all across Alaska training in disaster response for 2007 Northern Edge/Alaska Shield exercise. In the Joint Operations Center at Joint Forces Headquarters - Alaska "it's more like a melding of the minds," says Air National Guard Colonel John Griffin, Commander of the 168th Air Refueling Wing of the Alaska Air National Guard. "The nation is banking on the Guard; and you can sleep uninterrupted."

In preparation for the exercise that is in progress over the next few weeks - in conjunction with other National Guard disaster training exercises occurring simultaneously in Indiana and Rhode Island - some planned changes were rapidly implemented.

"Our old JOC was one-third the size and in another location," says Alaska Air National Guard Colonel Wendy Wenke, the officer-in-charge. "We knew what we had was inadequate in size and proximity to the state emergency operations center so we took an old break room and in 90 days converted it to our joint operation center."

The Joint Operations Center, or JOC, as it's called in military parlance, is where liaison officers come together in a concerted effort to get help downrange to the incident commander. "These folks are professionals," added Col. Wenke. "Give them a room, give them a computer and their off and running."

The 2007 Northern Edge/Alaska Shield exercise continues through May 18.