by Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Smith
4-25th IBCT Public Affairs
3/5/2015 - DEADHORSE, Alaska -- Paratroopers
with U.S. Army Alaska's 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne),
25th Infantry Division performed the largest U.S. airborne mission north
of the Arctic Circle in more than a decade Feb. 24 during Spartan
The exercise demonstrated their unique ability to rapidly mass power on an objective in an extremely cold, austere environment.
The airborne operation, spearheaded by the Spartan Brigade's 6th Brigade
Engineer Battalion, inserted nearly 150 paratroopers, along with
arctic-mobility equipment including a Small-Unit Support Vehicle and
arctic sustainment gear.
The large-scale exercise involved intricate planning and coordination
among several military components, including U.S. Army Alaska, the Air
Force and the Alaska Air National Guard.
The exercise validated Soldier mobility across frozen terrain - a key
fundamental of USARAK's mission as the Army's northernmost command.
The air support package included two Air Force C-17 Globemaster III
aircraft and two Alaska Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft to
fly the task force more than 800 miles north of Joint Base
Pegasus was a joint operation. Maj. Kirby Chacon, with the Alaska Air
National Guard at JBER, said working closely with the Army for Spartan
Pegasus helped further relations, and that just being able to practice
for real-world applications is important for both branches.
Army Capt. John Kline, commander of B Company, 6th BEB, said Spartan
Pegasus demonstrated USARAK's unique airborne and arctic skill sets as
well as the unit's ability to work closely with joint military partners.
"We do a lot of joint partnership missions," Kline said. "We work with
our Air Force brethren out of JBER and the Alaska National Guard as
well as many other partners from across Alaska."
"This exercise showcases the rapidly-deployable capabilities of the
paratroopers," Kline continued. "The arctic paratrooper can really
survive in extreme conditions and can [deploy] in very short response
USARAK is the Army's proponent for extreme cold-weather training.
As home to the Northern Warfare Training Center, USARAK validates the
training concepts taught there through operations across the state -
including within the Arctic Circle and even at the top of Mount
Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Wallace, who trained for the extreme cold at the
NWTC in Black Rapids, said the training was beneficial because it
taught him key arctic skills that he uses while training across Alaska.
"The Northern Warfare Training Center can get a little cold," joked
Wallace. "But it was a good experience. Our equipment allows us to
operate down to about negative 40 [Fahrenheit], and coming up here [to
Alaska] gave me the unique opportunity to get on skis for the first time
in my life. Learning how to ski and how to snowshoe allows us to be
more mobile while on the ground."
Adding to the exercise's success were the command-and-control
communications provided by the 307th Expeditionary Signal Battalion,
516th Signal Brigade.
The mission marked the farthest north a command post node has been
established by the unit - a key factor in the success of the overall
The various military components were able to maintain constant contact
with each other allowing for efficient order issue and receipt during
the entire exercise.
Though the mission was at the top of Alaska, it was tracked by the
Department of the Army as an emergency deployment readiness exercise.
With all jumpers and gear safely on the tundra, the airborne team once
again demonstrated USARAK's ability to work closely with joint military
partners to respond to emergencies and contingencies in the harsh arctic
environment of Alaska and other parts of the Asia-Pacific region.