March 22: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on Operation Northern Edge

Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2001

There is a surreal aspect to war games as large as the present Northern Edge exercise.

It's easy to poke fun at the concept and, what must be immense, cost of bringing together more than 10,000 airmen, soldiers, sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen and casting them into mock fighting roles, representing the forces of a fictitious aggressor nation opposed by an international peace force.

The logistics of the game are staggering. The planning necessary for coordination of the participating units is monumental.

Life and death precision is required in the maneuvering conducted within such exercises, which require the deployment of modern fighting aircraft, refueling squadrons, not to mention Navy vessels and Army vehicles.

But obtaining precision in those large scale movements of men, material and combat machinery is the challenge and the goal. For practice makes perfect, and in the field of war sloppiness of any kind can have deadly consequences.

Alaskans feeling a bit overrun with the military's spirited role playing over coming weeks might stop and consider one question: Who stands to gain from having our forces well oiled, so to speak, and ready to apply the lessons and tactics sharpened from practicing joint maneuvers?

It's not America's enemies.

If Alaska's broad-playing field indeed provides a true 'Northern Edge,' we can all take pride in having done our small part as host.

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