May 14 (UPI) -- Approximately 10,000 U.S. military personnel are participating in a 12-day joint training exercise called Northern Edge 2019 on and above central Alaska ranges and the Gulf of Alaska.
Approximately 250 aircraft from the Air Force, Marines, Navy and National Guard and five U.S. naval ships will participate in the exercise that began Monday and ends May 24, the U.S. Navy said in a news release. A Pacific Fleet aircraft carrier -- the San Diego-based USS Theodore Roosevelt -- will be participating in the exercise for the first time.
Other San Diego ships joining in the exercise are the guided missile destroyers USS Russell and USS John Finn. USS Kidd, a destroyer homeported in Everett, Wash., and USNS Henry J. Kaiser, a replenishment tanker based in the Pacific.
Northern Edge 2019 is the largest military training exercise scheduled in Alaska this year. It will include virtual and live participants from all over the United States exercising alongside live players.
The exercise is hosted by U.S. Pacific Force and includes units with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Marine Corps Forces Pacific, Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command, Air Force Materiel Command, U.S. 3rd Fleet, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and U.S. Naval Reserve.
NE19 is among a series of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command exercises designed for joint force exercises to respond to crises in the Indo-Pacific. They include sharpening personnel tactical combat skills as well as improving command, control and communication relationships across the joint force.
Last week, McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas provided the first operational refueling by a KC-46. In formation with a KC-10, the plane offloaded 30,000 pounds of fuel to eight F-16s in support of Exercise Northern Edge
The exercise takes place during a time of year when there is more daylight, as well as mild weather.
But Alaska Public Radio reported environmental groups have criticized both the timing and scale of the exercise as fish and marine mammals are passing through the waters around the state.