Alaska EX 2024: Statewide Emergency Drill Recreates Historic '64 Earthquake

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson came alive with activity as Alaska EX and Vigilant Guard 24-2, an extensive interagency disaster response drill, commenced on Monday. Spearheaded by the Alaska National Guard, this exercise aims to rigorously test the operational capabilities of various military units, in tandem with state and local entities, in responding to catastrophic events such as floods, fires, and earthquakes.

The scenario for this year’s training closely mirrors the devastating 1964 earthquake that rocked Southcentral Alaska. Imagined as a magnitude 9.2 quake striking 70 miles east of Anchorage and 50 miles west of Valdez at 4 a.m., akin to the events of Good Friday in 1964, the exercise includes responding to towering tsunamis reported in Kodiak, Seward, Cordova, and Valdez. Anticipated aftershocks further compound the challenges faced by responders.

Alaska EX represents a collaborative effort among multiple agencies, including the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, and the National Weather Service. Alongside local participation, National Guard units from various states, spanning from California to Washington, have joined forces in this comprehensive readiness exercise.

Jared Woody, representing the state’s Division of Homeland Security, underscored the critical importance of forging strong relationships with communities and organizational entities to effectively prepare for worst-case scenarios. He emphasized the drill’s role in identifying communication and implementation challenges, serving as a vital learning opportunity to enhance future response efforts.

Brig. Gen. Ken Radford, serving as the director of the Joint Staff for the Alaska National Guard, reiterated the readiness of military units to respond swiftly to the needs of Alaskans during emergencies. He stressed the exercise’s overarching objective of ensuring preparedness to mitigate suffering and provide vital assistance when called upon.

The exercise’s primary activities are centralized at the Guard’s Joint Forces Headquarters building, with additional field operations scheduled, including a Disaster Response Bed Down Set operation in Cordova. Active duty service members from the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army are actively participating, enhancing the breadth and depth of the drill.

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Throughout the week-long exercise, Alaska EX will continue to evolve, simulating a comprehensive response to a significant earthquake event. By bringing together a diverse coalition of agencies, this exercise serves as a cornerstone in bolstering preparedness and fostering seamless collaboration to effectively tackle real-life disasters, ensuring the safety and security of Alaska’s communities.

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