Alaska ANG supports ICEX mission

A K-loader prepares to load equipment on a C-17 Globemaster III cargo ramp at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, March 2, 2016, in support of Ice Exercise 2016 in the Arctic Ocean. ICEX 2016 is a five-week exercise designed to research, test and evaluate operational capabilities in the Arctic by the U.S. Navy Submarine Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)

A K-loader prepares to load equipment on a C-17 Globemaster III cargo ramp at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, March 2, 2016, in support of Ice Exercise 2016 in the Arctic Ocean. ICEX 2016 is a five-week exercise designed to research, test and evaluate operational capabilities in the Arctic by the U.S. Navy Submarine Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)

Airmen from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson push more than 12,000 pounds of cargo into the back of a C-17 Globemaster III at JBER, Alaska, March 2, 2016.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)

Airmen from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson push more than 12,000 pounds of cargo into the back of a C-17 Globemaster III at JBER, Alaska, March 2, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Watson, 249th Airlift Squadron senior enlisted manager, prepares to set up a release gate before taking off at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, March 2, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Watson, 249th Airlift Squadron senior enlisted manager, prepares to set up a release gate before taking off at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, March 2, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)

More than 12,000 pounds of cargo fall out of the back of a C-17 Globemaster III over the Arctic Ocean in support of the U.S. Navy Submarine Forces' Ice Exercise 2016.  The drop was made from 550 feet above ground level. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)

More than 12,000 pounds of cargo fall out of the back of a C-17 Globemaster III over the Arctic Ocean in support of the U.S. Navy Submarine Forces' Ice Exercise 2016. The drop was made from 550 feet above ground level. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)

More than 12,000 pounds of cargo fall out of the back of a C-17 Globemaster III over the Arctic Ocean in support of the U.S. Navy Submarine Forces' Ice Exercise 2016. ICEX 2016 is a five-week exercise designed to research, test and evaluate operational capabilities in the Arctic region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)

More than 12,000 pounds of cargo fall out of the back of a C-17 Globemaster III over the Arctic Ocean in support of the U.S. Navy Submarine Forces' Ice Exercise 2016. ICEX 2016 is a five-week exercise designed to research, test and evaluate operational capabilities in the Arctic region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)

A silhouette of a C-17 Globemaster III flies over the U.S. Navy Ice Camp SARGO in the Arctic Ocean during an airdrop, March 2, 2016 in support of Ice Exercise 2016. A temporary camp is being established on a sheet of ice in the Arctic Ocean to maintain submarine readiness and support Arctic objectives and initiatives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)

A silhouette of a C-17 Globemaster III flies over the U.S. Navy Ice Camp SARGO in the Arctic Ocean during an airdrop, March 2, 2016 in support of Ice Exercise 2016. A temporary camp is being established on a sheet of ice in the Arctic Ocean to maintain submarine readiness and support Arctic objectives and initiatives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- A crew of six from the 249th Airlift Squadron flew to the Arctic Circle, two hundred nautical miles north of Deadhorse, Alaska, in support of Ice Exercise led by the U.S. Navy Submarine Forces, March 2, 2016.

One of the difficulties the Airmen overcame was the location of the camp. Since the camp is on an ice floe, moving about half a nautical mile per hour, navigation is difficult. The crew was able to pinpoint the location; making this the first time a C-17 Globemaster III based from JBER has conducted an airdrop onto the polar ice cap.

According to the Navy website, the Arctic is experiencing a trend of diminishing sea ice extent and thickness creating the likelihood of increased maritime activity in the region, including trans-oceanic shipping and resource extraction.

"Early this summer, Navy asked for us to assist moving their equipment to the Polar ice cap," said Air Force Master Sgt. Cecil Dickerson. "[During the planning conference], we decided to use the air delivery method."

The crew loaded up equipment and helped establish a temporary command center for conducting operations in the region.

"We had roughly 12,000 pounds of cargo and eight container delivery systems," added Dickerson.
This is the first time in the 249th AS had ever conducted an airdrop in the polar region; they logged roughly six hours of simulator training to see how the aircraft would react to extreme northern latitude, Air Force Capt. Joshua Flye, 249th AS chief of tactics said.

"We did our best to look at our [technical] data for the aircraft," Flye said. "So everything was trial and error in the simulator."

The squadron has been developing non-traditional methods of airdrop delivery to austere locations, by flying into these remote sites with no radio contact and locating the ground party.

"The Navy is not used to dealing with Air Force logistics and airdrops, so we had to send some of our guys to the planning conferences to work the [logistics] of it," Flye added. "It's a unique cooperation between the Navy and the Air Force."

ICEX 2016 is a five-week biannual exercise designed to research, test and evaluate operational capabilities in the Arctic region.  The event enhances submarine readiness and supports Arctic objectives and initiatives.

The exercise includes more than 200 participants between U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, Alaska Air National Guard, Great Britain, Canada, and Norway.
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