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Arctic Airlift, 374th AW assists Army in sub-zero training

U.S. Army paratroopers, assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (Spartan Brigade), board a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, during exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK, Feb. 8, 2021

U.S. Army paratroopers, assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (Spartan Brigade), board a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, during exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK, Feb. 8, 2021. Yokota short-notice deployed four C-130’s to support the more than 1,100 paratroopers that took part in the two-week long exercise, intended to test the ability of the infantry battalion to face a near-peer adversary in Arctic conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)

U.S. Army paratroopers, assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (Spartan Brigade), prepare to board a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, during exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK, Feb. 8, 2021.

U.S. Army paratroopers, assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (Spartan Brigade), prepare to board a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, during exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK, Feb. 8, 2021. During the exercise, multiple supporting U.S. Army and Air Force air and ground crews, and Canadian partners worked together to execute the operation in remote and extreme arctic winter conditions, and ultimately ensure all forces involved continue to work cohesively to overcome both environmental and military challenges. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joel Seifert, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics specialist, scrapes ice off the windows of a C-130J Super Hercules during execution day for exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK, Feb. 8, 2021

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joel Seifert, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics specialist, scrapes ice off the windows of a C-130J Super Hercules during execution day for exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK, Feb. 8, 2021. Maintainers conduct pre-flight procedures to ensure the aircraft is safe and operational to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Luke Smeltzer, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, conducts pre-flight checks on a C-130J Super Hercules during execution day for exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK, Feb. 8, 2021.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Luke Smeltzer, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, conducts pre-flight checks on a C-130J Super Hercules during execution day for exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK, Feb. 8, 2021. While operating under cold weather conditions, extra checks are needed to be done, to include running auxiliary power unit early to get the aircraft warmed up so the oil can run through the engines efficiently, ensuring the longevity of the engines. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Jacob Lambert, 36th Airlift Squadron pilot, lands a C-130J Super Hercules at Donnelly Training Area, AK, during exercise Arctic Warrior 21, Feb. 8, 2021.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Jacob Lambert, 36th Airlift Squadron pilot, lands a C-130J Super Hercules at Donnelly Training Area, AK, during exercise Arctic Warrior 21, Feb. 8, 2021. During the exercise, multiple supporting U.S. Army and Air Force air and ground crews, and Canadian partners worked together to execute the operation in remote and extreme arctic winter conditions, and ultimately ensure all forces involved continue to work cohesively to overcome both environmental and military challenges. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)

U.S. Army paratroopers, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 509th parachute infantry regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division jump out of a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, as part of exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Donnelly Training Area, AK, Feb. 8, 2021.

U.S. Army paratroopers, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 509th parachute infantry regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division jump out of a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, as part of exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Donnelly Training Area, AK, Feb. 8, 2021. Yokota Air Base, Japan, C-130’s are multi-capable airlift aircraft. During AW21, they proved their airlift capabilities by providing static line jump opportunities for more than 90 paratroopers and a remote airfield landing where they downloaded approximately 500 more forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)

U.S. Army paratroopers, assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (Spartan Brigade), approach a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, during exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Donnelly Training Area, AK, Feb. 8, 2021

U.S. Army paratroopers, assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (Spartan Brigade), approach a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, during exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Donnelly Training Area, AK, Feb. 8, 2021. AW21 helped Soldiers and Airmen develop and refine the tactics, techniques, and procedures necessary to successfully operate in remote and extreme Arctic winter conditions and overcome both environmental and military challenges. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)

U.S. Army paratroopers, assigned to 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (Spartan Brigade), exit a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, as part of exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Donnelly Training Area, AK, Feb. 8, 2021.

U.S. Army paratroopers, assigned to 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (Spartan Brigade), exit a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, as part of exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Donnelly Training Area, AK, Feb. 8, 2021. AW21 allowed for the opportunity to strengthen the lines of communication between Alaskan and Pacific region military units and personnel, developing long-term relationships in preparation for future contingencies and operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)

U.S. Army paratroopers, assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (Spartan Brigade), approach a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, during exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK, Feb. 8, 2021

U.S. Army paratroopers, assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (Spartan Brigade), approach a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, during exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK, Feb. 8, 2021. Approximately 500 paratroopers will spend more than a week conducting AW21, a near-peer combat scenario which takes place in an Arctic environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)

U.S. Army paratroopers, assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (Spartan Brigade), prepare to board a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, during exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK, Feb. 8, 2021.
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U.S. Army paratroopers, assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (Spartan Brigade), prepare to board a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, during exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK, Feb. 8, 2021. The paratroopers will spend approximately ten days in the Alaskan cold conducting a near-peer combat scenario beginning with an airborne operation to secure an airfield. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)

Tech. Sgt. Matt Fryz, 36th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, prepares to close the cargo doors of a C-130J Super Hercules following the final troop off-load as part of exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Donnelly Training Area, AK, Feb. 8, 2021.
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Tech. Sgt. Matt Fryz, 36th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, prepares to close the cargo doors of a C-130J Super Hercules following the final troop off-load as part of exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Donnelly Training Area, AK, Feb. 8, 2021. During the exercise, the 36th AS worked alongside the U.S. Army Alaska to conduct a mass airdrop of paratroopers onto DTA. Once on the ground, the paratroopers simulated the seizure of the nearby landing zone to facilitate follow-on C-130 airland missions to further sustain ground operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)

A U.S. Army paratrooper, assigned to 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (Spartan Brigade), adjusts his ruck sack as he exit’s a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, as part of exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Donnelly Training Area, AK, Feb. 8, 2021.
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A U.S. Army paratrooper, assigned to 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (Spartan Brigade), adjusts his ruck sack as he exit’s a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, as part of exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Donnelly Training Area, AK, Feb. 8, 2021. The exercise demonstrated the capability of U.S. military forces in the pacific and arctic region to operate in austere winter conditions to face near-peer threats, bolstering safety and stability in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)

A U.S. Army paratrooper, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 509th parachute infantry regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, jumps out of a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, as part of exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Donnelly Training Area, AK, Feb. 8, 2021.
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A U.S. Army paratrooper, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 509th parachute infantry regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, jumps out of a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, as part of exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Donnelly Training Area, AK, Feb. 8, 2021. Paratroopers will spend approximately ten days in the Alaskan cold conducting a near-peer combat scenario beginning with an airborne operation to secure an airfield. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)

U.S. Army paratroopers, assigned to 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (Spartan Brigade), jump out of a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, as part of exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Donnelly Training Area, AK, Feb. 8, 2021.
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U.S. Army paratroopers, assigned to 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (Spartan Brigade), jump out of a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, as part of exercise Arctic Warrior 21 at Donnelly Training Area, AK, Feb. 8, 2021. Paratroopers in 4th IBCT (ABN), 25th ID, are part of the U.S. Army’s only arctic airborne brigade and regularly conduct training in Arctic environments. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON --

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – Working outside in 40 degrees below zero isn’t something a person generally thinks of doing, at some point, the numbers start to lose value and cold is just plain cold. But that didn’t stop the U.S. Army and Air Force from what they do every year for Exercise Arctic Warrior.

Primed with extreme cold-weather gear, a mind-over-matter tenacity and a varsity mentality, over 25 aircrew members assigned to the 374th Airlift Wing boarded four C-130J Super Hercules and short-notice deployed from Yokota Air Base, Japan, to support the more than 500 paratroopers of the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (Spartan Brigade) for Exercise Arctic Warrior 21, at Donnelly Training Area, Alaska., Feb. 8.

AW 21 is an exercise helping Soldiers and Airmen develop and refine the tactics, techniques, and procedures necessary to successfully operate in remote and extreme cold conditions and overcome both environmental and military challenges.

“This exercise demonstrates the effectiveness of our Arctic training and ability to face a near-peer threat in an Arctic environment, “said U.S. Army Col. Chris Landers, Spartan Brigade commander. “Our Paratroopers are trained to deploy on short notice and operate effectively in the deep Alaskan winter.”

On the morning of execution, the 374th AW aircrew threw on their extreme cold weather gear and stepped onto the flightline to begin a long and cold day.

Crew chiefs were the first to show, next were the loadmasters and then came the pilots – each crew conducting their specific pre-flight and loading procedures.

“Prior to take-off, we have to go through a series of pre-flight checks like getting rid of any ice from the aircraft so it doesn’t have any aerodynamic issues, setting up for unapproved runway landings, starting the auxiliary power unit and preheating the engines,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Josh Aleshire, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief instructor. “It takes a lot of time for certain steps while working under cold weather conditions, and since oil is the life-blood of the engines, preheating the engines keeps them running properly and secures their longevity. All of these measures guarantee the reliability of the Yokota airlift mission.”

As the pilots and crew chiefs were finalizing their checks, loadmasters were working with Spartan Brigade leadership to safely load the more than 500 paratroopers onto each aircraft.

Executing an exercise like AW 21 from the air requires a wide scope of expertise and capability to safely conduct personnel drops and landing operations under arctic winter conditions.

“When the C-130s fly around the flagpole performing local training at Yokota, we're getting the basics down so that when we get called to perform more challenging missions such as AW 21 we can be as ready as possible,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. David Ince, 36th Airlift Squadron pilot and Air Force mission commander for AW 21. “Arctic Warrior is unique in that it tests the Arctic airdrop and sustainment objectives in a way that wouldn't be possible without tactical airlift assets. The 36th was tasked to support this mission all the way from Japan because we are PACAF's premier tactical airlift platform.”

As they converged on the drop zone, the four C-130s got into formation, preparing for the final approach to the drop zone. The paratroop doors opened, and subzero temperatures invaded the cargo bay. The greenlight was called to the jumpmasters and over 90 paratroopers jumped into the freezing arctic skies over Donnelly Training Area.

What was their mission? To ensure the nearby Air Strip was clear for the C-130s to safely land.

The freezing, snow-covered landscape neared as the C-130s approached the remote landing zone. As the pilots landed their aircraft, dirt and snow kicked up, creating a cloud that trailed the C-130s until they slowed to a stop.

The cargo doors opened and 300 paratroopers – eyes wide with adrenaline – shrugged their more than 50-pound ruck sacks higher onto their backs and headed out into the blistering cold temperatures to begin the 10-day exercise.

Arctic Warrior depends on joint and multinational partners to succeed. From multiple supporting Army units, to Air Force crews, to Canadian partners on the ground, AW 21 allowed the opportunity for lines of communication and long-term relationships to be established in preparation for future contingencies and operations.

“We're a mobility platform; flying around the Pacific and performing tactical airlift is what we do best,” said Ince. “I'm very proud of how our team performed; even in the face of COVID-19 and a unique arctic tactical problem, we were able to launch a four-ship of C-130s a quarter of the way around the world with only a few days notice and then support a challenging Arctic Joint Forcible Entry Operation scenario.”

The U.S. military’s number one priority is readiness. It takes practice to be proficient at deploying battalion-sized units while working cohesively with joint forces with little or no time to plan and coordinate.

In Alaska, it is essential that exercises like Arctic Warrior are conducted during the harsher conditions prevalent in winter to improve systems and procedures which validate that the U.S. Army and Air Force are, in fact, ready.