Air Ops In Arctic Conditions - Cold Response 20
by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Devin Boyer
March 24, 2020
U.S. Tactical Air Control Party Airmen assigned to the 2nd Air Support Operations Squadron and British Royal Marines Commandos went toe-to-toe with Arctic temperatures as they parachuted from a C-130J Super Hercules on February 27, 2020.
February 27, 2020 - Royal Marines' elite Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron (SRS) conduct a parachute insertion from an American C-130J Super Hercules during Exercise Cold Response 20 at Kiruna, Sweden. Ships, helicopters, armored vehicles, commando units, medics, and specialist raiding craft are all committed to the Norwegian-led Exercise Cold Response. In all 15,000 military personnel from ten countries are committed to the demanding winter war games, which will test the abilities of allied nations to fight in one of the most hostile environments on earth. (Courtesy photo by PO Phot Si Ethell)
The training was in preparation of Exercise Cold Response 20, a Norwegian Joint Headquarters exercise focused on joint and combined maritime, land and air operations. Aircrew from the 37th Airlift Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, provided airlift for the exercise. They facilitated the parachute jumps into Kiruna, Sweden, and conducted multiple resupply trips from Bardufoss Air Station in Norway to Kiruna Air Field in Sweden.
Cold Response is designed to test the troops’ ability to work together while enduring harsh weather conditions. With knee-deep snow and mountainous terrain, the two countries provided the perfect environment for the training.
“The main aim is to conduct multinational joint exercises with a high-intensity combat scenario in a harsh arctic environment,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Andrew Shebelut, 2nd ASOS TACP troop leader. “We are training in Norway and Sweden to provide the advanced arctic skills necessary to not only survive, but also develop and adjust tactics, techniques and procedures operating north of the arctic circle.”
Readiness is an ongoing focus for the Air Force. While training at home station has its benefits, Airmen reap an unparalleled advantage when training in locations outside what they are used to.
“The arctic is unforgiving, so unless you learn, live and train in these conditions, you won’t truly understand what the necessary personal kit is, how to wear it, how to take care of yourself and what the cold does to your tactical equipment,” Shebelut said. “If you can operate in these conditions, you can operate in any environment.”
After the sun rose on Norway the next day, the TACP Airmen and British Commandos found themselves leaping into the snowy void.
Upon a successful landing, the multi-skilled troops trekked to their next location where the 37th AS delivered multiple snowmobiles, which were used to pull sleds loaded with equipment through the harsh environment.
“The crew was determined to ensure first pass personnel airdrop success,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Loren Miller, 37th AS pilot. “They worked hard, delivering the entire unit and their supplies. Without the crews’ efforts, many of the U.S. and U.K. desired training objectives would likely not have been achieved.”
February 29, 2020 - Two low-cost, low-altitude resupply bundles descend to a drop zone from a C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 37th Airlift Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, in Kiruna, Sweden. Tactical Air Control Party Airmen assigned to the 2nd Air Support Operations Squadron, Vilseck, Germany, and British Royal Marines Commandos assigned to the SRS received the LCLA bundles which were critical for life sustainment in the harsh Arctic conditions. The airdrops were part of events in preparation for Exercise Cold Response 20, a Norwegian Joint Headquarters exercise focused on joint and combined maritime, land and air operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Devin Boyer)
With the help of the 37th AS, the TACP Airmen and British Commandos were able to cruise across 200 kilometers of land on their snowmobiles where they called in an air resupply drop of valuable life sustaining items.
“The aircrew’s work ethic, expertise and skill were vital in the safe and successful airdrop of jumpers and subsequent low-cost, low-altitude resupply,” Miller added. “The team’s efforts provided once in a lifetime training to our U.K. partners and expanded our TACP’s lethality and ability to command and control various forces in this harsh environment. I’m sure that this hard work and displayed commitment to our partners will pay dividends in the future years in continuous partnerships.”
Joint training opportunities like Exercise Cold Response 20 provide opportunities to improve military skills with international partners in challenging climate and terrain.
“Working together, especially in this theater, is so important,” Shebelut said. “When you look at what we are able to accomplish in this exercise together, it would not have been possible alone. By working together, we were able to increase our access range through air, land and sea platforms.”
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