Operation: Valley Sweep (Alaska)

Alaska Operation Hidden Valley AAR


Operation name: Operation: Valley Sweep

Duration: 6 days execution, 5 days planning / coordination

Dates: Execution – 01-07 October 2012, Planning – 26-30 September 2012

Locations: Talkeetna, Willow, Houston, and Wasilla, Alaska

Executive Summary

Paragraph 1: Pre-Deployment

1. All coordination that went into assembling teams, identifying initial rally points, and the insertion of recon teams.  – Coordinated with the AKVOAD and region X for flood recovery support in the MAT-SU Valley.  Region X assembled and deployed a 3 man team to Alaska based on the AK coordinator’s assessment of the situation.  The team inserted via commercial air donated by Alaska Airlines from Portland and Seattle.  The TR-AK team them moved them from the airport to the Mat-Su valley.  The TR-AK coordinator conducted VTC and telephonic meetings with both region X leadership as well as with TR-HQ leadership.

2.Travel and accommodation plans. – TR-AK deployed and traveled via POV’s and of course the TR-AK assault / response VANAGON to the MAT-SU valley.  TR region X augmentation traveled via Alaska Airlines.  The team was put up at Alaska Mountaineering School in Talkeetna, and the in-laws of Andrew Stevens in Palmer, AK.

Paragraph 2: Deployment

1. Overview of travel to DZ – Travel in Alaska was very good.  The road system sustained minimal damage due to the flooding.  The out of state pax were delayed for a few hours out of Portland and Seattle, but did arrive on the prescribed DTG in Alaska.  The TR-AK crew had a member on standby to pick up the out of state pax and move them to Wasilla where a member of the deployed team did a hot swap of the pax and moved them into the AO.

2. Daily activities overview – Due to daylight hours becoming shorter in Alaska the team worked about an average of 10 hours per day.  The typical day would include first call and a TL update to the team.  The TL would then conduct a phone link up with the AKVOAD to get the days taskings.  Once tasked by the VOAD the TL would make contact with the people who needed assistance.  The TL would then issue a FRAGO / update to the team.  Once on site the TL and ATL would conduct an assessment of the damage to the property and task organize as applicable.  The team would then breakdown and accomplish whatever needed to be done.  The bulk of the work included debris removal and muck out operations as well as some very minor building projects.  Once the day was completed the team would conduct an AAR and the TL would close out the daily operations with the AKVOAD, region X leadership and TR-HQ leadership.

3. Significant changes to pre-deployment plan – Deployment pushed right by 24 hours due to late commitment of airline tickets from Alaska Airlines.  TR-AK deployed as planned and began operations despite region X augmention delays.

4. Retrograde (exfil procedures) – The AK team members retrograded on 07 October 2012 via POV to homestation. The out of state pax left via Alaska Airlines the same day.  All out of state members submitted a closure report via text or phone call to both TR-AK and their home state upon return to their HOR.  No issues with retrograde operations.

Paragraph 3: Post-Deployment

1. Any significant issues? – No TR related issues, however planning and tasking shortfalls from the AKVOAD will be addressed in “lessons learned” paragraph.


Total cash raised:

Less- Credit card fees:


Expenses: (reimbursement pending / TL needs to submit voucher)

Transportation: fuel – $400

Equipment: $ 540 ( on home depot account)

Food Lodging: $150 – donated by Talkeetna Road House)

Authorized cash disbursements:


Net operation (gain/loss)


TL – Jeff Alberts,  days execution, 5 days planning

ATL – Jim Tollefson,  2 days planning, 5 days execution

Jim Yeo,  4 days execution

Conrad McCluskey,  2 days execution

Kyle Murphy,  5 days execution

Jeremy Frazier,  5 days execution

“Simms”,  5 days execution

Lessons Learned & Key Actions

This event showed what region X can accomplish in a pinch.  The regional leadership was on point soliciting volunteers to come up the help out Alaska in a critical time.  The TL was prepared to execute even if the augmentation could not get plane tickets to Alaska.  The region did establish a cold weather packing list as well.  Also the TR leadership identified many of the challenges facing deployments to Alaska. They include limited aircraft / airlines support from region X hubs, cold weather skills of non-Alaska members, austere living conditions in Alaska outside established infrastructure, and few resources available at short notice to outfit teams.  The AK group also built critical bridges and identified shortfalls in the AKVOAD business practices.  The team decided to “take initiative in the absence of orders” at the onset of the mission and was able to execute faster than the info could be vetted and passed by the VOAD.  The TR-AK TL did volunteer to act as the vetting agent in this mission but was not taken up on the offer.  However the VOAD did recognize the value of TR and its unique skill set and has offered the vice chairperson position to the TR-AK coordinator.  He was vetted and voted in following the operation.

This move has put TR at the forefront of disaster response in the last frontier, and the TR-AK team is working to establish a response SOP and cache with the VOAD and is prepared to act as the recon and assessment asset as well as the backcountry specialists for the AKVOAD.  The footprint of TR has also grown in Alaska due the positive media response generated by the efforts of the Valley Sweep team.  The TR-AK members are seeking to improve winter / backcountry skill sets as we move forward.  The TR-AK coordinator would like to address the subject of additional training for his team as well as present a COA (Course of Action) decision brief to TR-HQ that would present plans and way ahead as establishing TR-AK (with region X in support) as the arctic and backcountry specialists in the organization.

The biggest lesson learned is that TR region X should be considered the “backcountry” region.  This is mainly due to the unique skill sets and cold weather survival skills held by a majority of its members. The TR mission up here was not done in shorts and T-shirts, we had to endure temperatures below freezing and rain and sleet during operations.  I would recommend that the TR-HQ staff wargame COA’s to outfit region X personnel with appropriate TR logo’d cold and wet weather gear as well.

Jeff Alberts has also nominated Jim Tollefson to assume duties as TR-AK director of field operations and deputy state coordinator for Alaska.  This nomination is pending approval of region X leadership.  He was instrumental in the success of Operation Valley Sweep and embodies all the qualities that a TR volunteer/leader is.



TR-AK, Coordinator