KODIAK, Alaska (AP) - Residents of a southern Alaska community have voiced environmental concerns over a planned military exercise.
Residents of Kodiak met with U.S. Navy and Air Force officials to discuss concerns about the effect of a two-week military training exercise scheduled to take place in May, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported Thursday.
This year’s version of the biennial Northern Edge exercise in the Gulf of Alaska will be “very similar in size and scope” to 2017, Air Force Col. Barley Baldwin said. The exercise will involve about 6,000 personnel, 175 fixed-wing aircraft and at least three Naval vessels, he said.
Some residents said they believe the activities could harm marine species and ecosystems and that the training should take place in the fall to avoid impacting species active in the spring and summer. At least one said she felt like the same issues are discussed each year the exercise occurs.
“You take our comments and say you will consider them - and nothing changes,” Kodiak resident Stacy Studebaker said.
The exercise is conducted in the spring because the season offers relatively safe weather, Baldwin said. “Safety is one of the reasons we don’t get into exercising at times when the seas are typically rougher,” he said.
Alaska is important to both naval and air strategy, officials said.
“Alaska is kind of the air crossroads of the world,” Navy Senior Chief Brandon Raile said. “From Alaska, we’re able to get anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere within nine hours.”
Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com
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