Greetings from Alaska! That's right, it's the beginning of our 2011 Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) in Alaska! IRT is a program coordinated through the Pentagon that allows reservists to gain real life experience using our military specialties to accomplish community improvement projects. This is really critical for reserve troops, because we only drill 24 days (one weekend a month) a year! I don't think I blogged about it last year, so here's the scoop:
There is a village in Alaska named Newtok that is in danger of being swept away by the Ninglick River within the next five years. So the Alaskan government reached out to the military to find a relocation solution. So, for the past two years, and the next three, the Marine Engineers, Navy Corpsman, Air Force Pilots, and the Army Watercraft are banding together to help the village relocate to a safer location. Th Army watercraft is being used to transport the equipment and materials from Tacoma, WA to Bethel, AK with onward movement to Mertarvik, the new village. Then the Marine Engineers are using it to build a road, a shelter, and an airstrip! The Air Force is providing support with UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopters for the transportation of troops. The Navy is manning several smaller boats to go between Mertarvik and Newtok, as well as providing dental and medical support to the military personnel on site. So many pieces are fitting together to help a community!
I am so excited to get to work more with this project this year. It seems like as soon as I am able to finish one mission, the next has already started! Never a dull moment at my work it seems.
So this week, I went to Anchorage to attend the Initial Planning Conference with the rest of the units that are involved. We were able to work through a lot of the plan and really make sure that as the project expands each year we work together to get everything done. The Permafrost in Alaska really limits how much we can get done every year, so we only have the summer to work.
Oh, and I saw my first Moose!