Alaska ANG supports ICEX mission
By Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera, JBER Public Affairs
/ Published April 04, 2016
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.