The 402nd Army Field Support Battalion-Alaska spent the month of February testing, identifying and documenting the breaking point of equipment and systems used by units in Alaska in an extreme arctic environment.
“Arctic Warrior 21, also referred to as AW21, was a first-of-its-kind training exercise aimed at validating America's Arctic Warriors' ability to rapidly deploy and operate in sub-zero temperatures,” said Maj. Jake Elders, support operations officer for the 402nd AFSBn-Alaska. “Winter training events in Alaska are common occurrences; however, none compare to the size and scope of Arctic Warrior, executed by U.S. Army Alaska Soldiers.”
The 402nd provides brigade readiness support to Soldiers located at installations across Alaska. Soldiers deployed to the training area in the state to conduct an airborne operation and simulate force-on-force operations to seize an airfield and maneuver against an opposing force.
“Our primary mission is to analyze unit materiel readiness and assist in resolving equipment readiness issues,” said Lt. Col. Luzhilda P. Restrepo, commander of the 402nd AFSBn-Alaska.
The 402nd dispatched Logistics Assistance Representatives, commonly referred to as LARs, to units that requested assistance on various systems ranging from tactical wheeled vehicles to complex communications arrays.
“Our LARs support units through Soldier training on system use and maintenance, equipment fault assessments and guidance from subject matter experts on how to repair and safely employ equipment,” said Elders.
The battalion utilized its Division Logistics Support Element, also known as a DLSE to coordinate the needed LAR support across the area of operations.
“We work to ensure the right support, to the right unit, at the right time to ensure mission readiness,” said Restrepo.
Along with ensuring units have necessary support, AW21 provided the 402nd with lessons learned for operating in extreme cold weather conditions. Throughout the exercise, temperatures at the training area reached as low as negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Such low temperatures presented new challenges,” said Elders. “Our team not only had to repair equipment and systems when necessary, but also had to keep these systems operational.”
As a result, added Elders, the team identified potential issues with their systems caused by Arctic conditions and will work to mitigate these issues in the future.
In addition to the readiness support provided by the LARs and DSLE, the 402nd used the dining facility at Fort Greely Logistics Readiness Center to feed the Soldiers who arrived early for the exercise and operated an on-call bus service for emergency evacuations.
“Arctic Warrior 21 gave our team the opportunity to showcase our vast logistical support capabilities that enable readiness for USARAK, which helped make the exercise a success for all involved,” said Restrepo.