Alaska Army National Guard annual training enables helicopters to deploy to western Alaska during River Watch

by Alaska National Guard Public Affairs

The Alaska Army National Guard’s Golf Company, 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion will conduct its federal, annual training requirements in western Alaska this year from April 30 to May 12.

The timing coincides with the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s River Watch which provides aerial surveillance and real-time updates in order to issue on-scene flood advisories and warnings, assist communities with flooding preparations, and support emergency response operations if flooding occurs.

On April 11, 2022, the unit prepositioned two Black Hawk helicopters each in Bethel and Nome in preparation. When training kicks off Bethel will have two HH-60M (Medevac) and two UH-60L helicopters. Guardsmen will train with three UH-60L aircraft out of Nome. Both locations will have hoist capable aircraft in order to support a wide range of emergency rescue scenarios.

Members of the public can expect to see the Army National Guard flying overhead during this time as part of their scheduled training cycle.

Should there be significant flooding or other emergency in the region during this time, the Army National Guard air crews and helicopters are ready to provide support as requested by the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center.

“Conducting annual training in western Alaska gives our air crews valuable experience flying across all types of terrain and conditions,” said Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe, commissioner for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard. “Also, our Guardsmen and their aircraft will be strategically located to provide emergency assistance to communities along the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers that experience a flood disaster.”

In addition to the readily available helicopters, the National Guard is prepared to deploy Guardsmen across the state to support communities as needed.

“With the elevated risk of flooding this spring, the Alaska National Guard is leaning forward in the event of an emergency,” said Saxe. “We are ready if rural communities need help.”

During a domestic emergency or natural disaster, local authorities may request assistance through the State Emergency Operations Center. State emergency managers assist local emergency managers in a coordinated effort to provide the necessary resources. Through this process, the state may request specific support through the Alaska National Guard Joint Operations Center.