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Why we exercise - Develop that combat muscle memory

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska -- As we reflect on what has become an annual April exercise, it's important to remember why we hold exercises in the military.

The answer is not, "because we can," contrary to some opinions.

At the most basic level, we hold exercises so that we develop the "muscle memory" to carry out our duties in war-time. The more ingrained and practiced a particular task, the better we are able to perform that task without really thinking about it.

When you're dealing with a complex set of variables - such as multiple units made up of individuals - it's crucial to develop, practice and maintain the relationships necessary to achieve a common goal.
In the case of this exercise, the goal is two-fold.

The first is to develop and maintain the ability to deploy people and equipment anywhere on the planet with 72-hours' notice. This was our goal during the March 20 UTA day.
The second goal is to conduct our wartime duties in a combat environment.

Sometimes our wartime duties vary greatly from our duties at home station - this would be the case for our Military Personnel Section. For others, the duties are pretty much the same. Despite those differences, the added stressors, distractions and hardships in a deployed environment are common to everyone.
It is beneficial that we practice our war-time duties and simulate - as best we can - the added stress of a deployment to a combat zone. After all, it is not good to find yourself downrange never having received at least a taste of what it might be like.

Our nation provides us with a lot of re-sources and expects us to be ready to de-fend her skillfully and professionally at any time. To meet that expectation, we need to develop our "deployment muscles" through exercise.