60 Airmen from 109th Airlift Wing in Scotia supporting Canadian Arctic region exercise
New York Air National Guard is providing support to Exercise Guerrier Nordique 2023
SCOTIA, NEW YORK (03/01/2023) (readMedia)-- Sixty New York National Guard Airmen assigned to Scotia's 109th Airlift Wing are in the Canadian Arctic supporting a Canadian Forces exercise that runs through March 22, 2023.
The wing, based at Stratton Air National Guard Base, deployed 18 members of the Polar Camp Skiway team February 22 to Resolute Bay in Canada's Nunavut Territory an additional 40 Airmen and two LC-130H ski-equipped aircraft will deploy this weekend.
The New York team will provide tactical airlift support for Exercise Guerrier Nordique 2023 being conducted by the 2nd Canadian Division in the region.
"I'm proud and excited for the hard work of our LC-130 aviators and other Multi-Capable Airmen in support of the Guerrier Nordique exercise," said Col. Christian Sander, the commander ofthe 109th Airlift Wing.
"The Chief of Staff of the Air Force has cited the LC-130 as a critical power projection enabler in the Arctic and our actions in support of Guerrier Nordique reinforce the Chief's lines of effort as they pertain to pursuing collaborative planning and exercise opportunities with Canada, a critical US strategic partner," he added.
The 109th's LC-130 Hercules tactical transport planes are the largest ski-equipped aircraft in the world, capable of landing on ice and snow in polar environments.
As the only unit to fly the LC-130H, the 109th routinely provides airlift support to science research stations in Antarctica and Greenland.
Soldiers from the Vermont Army National Guard, who specialize in mountaineering and winter warfare will take part in the training event, alongside Canadian Ranger-a local reserve force-and soldiers from Canada's 35 Brigade.
The New York Air National Guard's 105th Airlift Wing, based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, will fly the Vermont Soldiers to the Arctic on board a C-17 Globemaster III cargo plane.
From there the 109th Airlift Wing will deploy the American and Canadian troops to forward operating locations.
"Our job is to use skills we have built over years of operating in the Arctic and Antarctica to provide the real-world tactical support to enable citizen soldiers from Canada and the U.S. to develop similar abilities through exercising their role in possible Arctic combat operations," said Lt. Col. Matt Sala, an LC-130H pilot in charge of preparing landing areas for the aircraft.
Among the 109th deployers, are the 109th's Polar Camp Skiway Team, or PCST. These are Airmen trained to establish a remote camp in extreme cold weather environments and then build a ski landing area capable of supporting the unit's LC-130H aircraft.
The specially trained team works with the Royal Canadian Air Force's 440 Squadron which flies the Twin Ottter ski-equipped aircraft to establish ski landing areas.
The Canadians flew the New York team into the location where the remote camp is being established, and the 109th Airmen used specially equipped snowmobiles to lay out the landing zone for the larger American LC-130Hs.
In the past, Guerrier Nordique has operated as a training exercise for emergency response and domestic operations in extreme weather in Northern Canada.
This year, the Guerrier Nordique exercise will focus on combat capability and lethality in temperatures that stay well below zero all day, every day during the training period, Sala explained
"The exercise will culminate in a mock overland assault of an airfield 100 miles away, wherein Canadian and American soldiers will utilize snow machines and vehicles-capable of traversing the Arctic terrain-to travel, assault, and secure the airfield," he said.
"While elements of the Vermont Guard and Canadian Armed forces will be conducting training, the role of the 109th Airlift Wing is as a real-world tactical airlift," said Chief Master Sgt. Ron Jemmott, the senior enlisted leader for the wing's maintenance squadron and a member of the PCST.
"Our job is to establish the ski landing area as a lifeline for the guys out there training," Jemmott added.
Once established, the remote camp and ski landing area will provide multinational ground forces with tactical support via the 109th's LC-130Hs.
This can include flying supplies and personnel to and from the exercise site and aeromedical evacuation if needed, Jemmott said.
Canadian Armed Forces and Vermont Army National Guard personnel will deploy to the exercise area and conduct combat training operations, establishing their own remote camp from which to operate and train in Arctic combat and survival techniques.
"Exercises like this illustrate the growing strategic importance of developing American and allied capabilities in the Arctic as interest in the region is scaling up around the world," Jemmott said.
"When adversaries like China and Russia are beginning to operate more often there, it is time for us to work with allies and other agencies to increase our individual capabilities as well as our interoperability so we can compete in the future," Jemmott added.
Photographs of the exercise can be found on the New York National Guard FLCKR site here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nyng/albums/72177720306380077