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NEWS | May 9, 2014

Engineers Jump North of Arctic Circle

By Army Staff Sgt. Mylinda DuRousseau 1/25th SBCT Public Affairs

The midnight sun turned the sky pink as 12 paratroopers from 84th Engineer Support Company, 6th Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Airborne), 2d Engineer Brigade, jumped out of a C-17 Globemaster III to land north of the Arctic Circle during multi-component joint Arctic mobility exercise Arctic Pegasus.

"It was an awesome jump," said Army Staff Sgt John Metzger, supply sergeant with 84th ESC, who said this was his first time jumping into the Arctic Circle. "It has been an experience."

The multi-agency exercise, which included air dropping and recovering a Small Unit Support Vehicle was designed to enhance U.S. Army Alaska's proficiency for conducting Arctic airborne operations, mobility and ground maneuvers in extreme cold-weather conditions while enhancing interoperability among agencies.

"We started with an airborne insertion of personnel and a SUSV," said 1st Lt. Robert Tester, 84th ESC executive officer. "Today we moved into arctic mobility training."
C-17s were used for the initial insertion and pilots from1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, Alaska Army National Guard, transported the Soldiers through the area in UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

"It was a great opportunity to work with Alaska National Guard, their pilots and crew chiefs," Tester said.

Tester said the austere environment offered less support than other missions and required detailed contingency planning for equipment recovery, personnel injuries and other possible complications.

"It has been an overarching process involving multiple units across USARAK," Tester said. "Everything went together well, it has been a great experience."

Arctic Pegasus allowed USARAK to demonstrate its unique capability as the premier Arctic-trained operations command in the Army and maximize training resources across multiple units and maintain readiness for an array of mission sets across the Asia-Pacific theater and the Arctic.

"It was a way for us to rehearse a capability we have that is unique to Alaska and USARAK," said Army Lt. Col. William Conde, battalion commander for 6th Engineer Battalion.

In addition to the challenges of operating in the arctic, being more than 900 miles from the unit's home station at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson presented communication and medical care concerns.

Army Maj. Dana Riegel and Army Capt. Taylor Fernandez, 2nd Engineer Brigade planners, coordinated with civilian agencies like the small medical clinic in Deadhorse to ensure all aspects of readiness were built into the exercise. Great attention was paid to what gear the Soldiers would wear throughout the mission, ensuring they had the proper equipment for operating in the Arctic while not overheating in the 68-degree weather prior to boarding the plane.

"[The] thing that paid off the most was the integration with external organizations," Conde said.

The planning and execution of the exercise was focused on the arctic, but the complete process provided valuable experience and training for potential contingencies throughout the USARAK area of operations.

USARAK is prepared to respond to needs in the Pacific and has the ability to travel throughout the region quickly. The ability to board a plane in subzero temperatures and jump out in a tropical environment with almost 100 pounds of equipment strapped to each Soldier is one that could be exercised in a number of situations, said Army Lt. Col. Alan Brown, USARAK public affairs officer.

"The individual adaptation of leaving one environment and going to another, training our troops to be adaptable to those extreme changes, is an important skill set," Brown said.
Exercise Arctic Pegasus presented planning and logistical challenges, but joint interagency planning and execution made it possible, Brown said.

Sgt. Kandom Moore, an 84th ESC squad leader, said the jump provided valuable training.
"It is what we are up here for," he said. "It was a great opportunity for us to do what we train on, what makes us different."

This article was originally published at:

- PACOM: (posted May 9 2014) -


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