Alaska Air National Guard conducts water rescue training

According to information released by the U.S. Department of Defense on May 15, 2024, the Alaska National Guard has begun the first phase of Kodiak Arctic Care '24, a mission aimed at providing vital medical services to the residents of Kodiak Island.
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The AK ANG rigid-hull inflatable boat. (Image source: US Department of Defense)

The Alaska Air National Guard (AK ANG) is a vital component of the United States air defense and humanitarian efforts and operates primarily from three locations: Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) in Anchorage, Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, and Clear Air Force Station.

The 176th Squadron, based at JBER, is the largest unit within the AK ANG and is comprised of various squadrons that perform various missions such as airlift, search and rescue, and aerial refueling. The 210th, 211th, and 212th Rescue Squadrons are known for their parachute rescue missions and frequently conduct rescue missions in Alaska's difficult terrain and weather conditions. For example, the 210th Rescue Squadron recently rescued stranded skiers in Kenai Fjords National Park, highlighting their role in emergency response and cooperation with local authorities.

The 168th Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base focuses on aerial refueling operations and supports both domestic missions and international exercises such as Red Flag-Alaska, in which multiple allied forces practice joint operations to improve combat readiness.

In the past, the AK ANG has participated in various domestic and international missions. After the September 11 attacks, AK ANG units supported Operation Noble Eagle, conducting air defense operations over major U.S. cities. They have also deployed overseas for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, contributing to the global war on terrorism.


One of the AK ANG's most important aircraft is the C-17 Globemaster III, which is used primarily for strategic airlift missions. The 168th Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base operates KC-135 Stratotankers, which are critical for aerial refueling.

For search and rescue operations, the AK ANG relies on HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters and HC-130J Combat King II aircraft. The Pave Hawk is a highly versatile helicopter capable of recovering personnel in hostile environments, while the Combat King II supports extended search and rescue operations with its aerial refueling capabilities and long range. In addition, the AK ANG's equipment includes UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters used by the 207th Aviation Troop Command.

Anna Harden

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