NOME, Alaska -- The Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group (CRG) honed its ability to operate in the arctic by constructing survival snow caves during Exercise Arctic Eagle-Patriot (APE) 22 in Nome, Alaska, Feb. 27, 2022.
Exercise Arctic Eagle-Patriot 22 is a homeland security and emergency response exercise operating throughout Alaska, hosted by the Alaska National Guard. AEP22 includes opportunities for both command post exercise and field training exercise venues, with supporting scenario development, as needed. AE provides an opportunity for National Guard states to participate in high-level training opportunities that generate combat readiness and the ability to operate in extreme cold-weather environments. The AEP22 intends to explore arctic capabilities and restrictions in the context of domestic integration.
“It’s a learning experience. It’s a lot of work,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Thomas Kennedy, transportation specialist, 123rd Contingency Response Group. “They’re very cramped and tight, but if you’re in a pinch and you need a place to stay, they’ll keep you alive.”
The 123rd CRG comprises multiple Contingency Response Teams. Each team has 12-15 multi-capable airmen from various Air Force career fields. The type of mission or requirement determines the composition of the group.
Their primary mission is to open and establish airfield operations rapidly. Their role in AEP22 is managing exercise airflow at the Nome Army National Guard Hangar as participants and equipment arrive and depart.
“As a Contingency Response Team, we have to be able to respond to contingencies,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Robert Esterle, command and control operations specialist, 123rd Contingency Response Group. “We have to rapidly adapt to what changes.”
AEP22 is a multi-national, interagency extreme cold weather exercise for units and organizations to continue to run operations in adverse conditions. When the team is not communicating with or helping unload personnel and equipment, they are testing gear, equipment and arctic contingency response operations.
“The cold is an entirely different ballgame,” states U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Yuri Motamedi, security forces, 123rd Contingency Response Group. “But it’s good. We’re lucky enough to have been given a lot of great gear. A lot of the stuff we have we’re testing it out, seeing what layers work.”