by Airman 1st Class Luke Hill
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
6/25/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Five
B-52H Stratofortresses from the 96th Bomb Squadron, Barksdale Air Force
Base, Louisiana, headed to Alaska June 22 to participate in Exercise
Northern Edge 2015.
Northern Edge is a joint training exercise involving all military
branches and prepares joint forces to respond to crises in the
"Northern Edge is a Pacific Command exercise where joint forces make up a
global response force," said Capt. John Brandes, 2nd Operations
Support Squadron deputy flight commander and team chief for exercise
Northern Edge. "The exercise takes place over the Joint Pacific Alaska
Range Complex which consists of 65,000 square miles in the air, 42,000
square miles over sea, and over 1.5 million acres of land maneuvering
The exercise is designed to sharpen U.S. tactical combat skills,
improve control and communication between forces and develop
interoperable plans across the joint force.
Exercises like NE15 are an imperative part of making sure Airmen are
always learning and sharpening their skills to stay combat ready.
"It was a great learning experience," said 1st Lt. Dustin Martin, 96th
BS navigator. "The sortie was almost 16 hours long, and you really have
to focus on what you're doing. Things are considerably more complicated
and little things make a big difference when the flight is that long."
A large variety of planes with different roles and purposes are used
during the exercise. The 2nd Bomb Wing's role is important because, with
the B-52, the Air Force can travel long distances and maintain a
constant presence in the air.
"We can fly further, longer and carry more than any other asset," said
Martin. "People depend on us because we can fly [for hours] and stay in
the game longer."
The experience also allows different branches to work together as they would be required to in a real-life scenario.
"We speak different languages," said Martin. "Lingo and practices are
different between branches and joint exercises help us work out those
differences so we can work together more efficiently."
In a real life crisis, the Air Force, Army and Navy must be able to
operate together without a hitch. This makes communication and teamwork
vital to the success of the mission.
NE15 is essential to making sure Airmen always stay combat ready. Should
circumstances ever call for it, the 2nd Bomb Wing is prepared to bring
devastating B-52 combat capabilities anytime, anywhere.