EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Airmen from the 354th Fighter Wing completed Arctic Gold 21-1, a Phase 1 readiness exercise, Nov.19, 2020.
The primary objective of the exercise was to test and evaluate the wing’s capability to deploy forces and cargo in accordance with a deployment order. It also included the generation of twelve F-35As in an arctic environment, a first for the 354th Fighter Wing and Pacific Air Forces.
Deploying twelve fifth generation fighters requires a significant amount of equipment and personnel to sustain operations down range. The 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron plays a key role in ensuring everything and everyone gets to where they need to go.
“Airmen from LRS worked hard and the results show it,” said Holly Kinsey, the 354th LRS plans and integration chief. “We packed and loaded more than 321,800 lbs. of equipment and personnel deployment gear in three days.”
At the other end of the base, the 356th Aircraft Maintenance Unit and 356th Fighter Squadron worked together to get 12 F-35As out the door at once.
“This generation and packout is important because it allows us to simulate what it takes to move the unit during a real-world tasking,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Devin Ferguson, the 356th AMU officer in charge. “We’ve learned a lot about how we need to operate in the Arctic in a way that is safe and reliable. Understanding this environment and overcoming the challenges it brings is paramount in order to fully support our Arctic strategy.”
Airmen tasked to deploy as part of the exercise went through a deployment processing line in which base agencies such as the medical group, legal and finance screened deployers’ records and verified all training requirements were complete and up to date.
Eielson Airmen are very familiar with readiness exercises, but AG 21-1 was the first executed during COVID-19. For the Airmen’s safety, local restrictions limited the number of people who were physically allowed in the holding facility at once. Maj. Shawn McGoffin, the 354th Fighter Wing Inspector General, says that didn’t stop Team Eielson.
“We have learned a few lessons from this exercise, but overall we are happy with the results,” McGoffin said. “Our Airmen work hard everyday to accomplish the mission and this exercise is proof the 354th Fighter Wing is always ready to go.”