62d AW perform Ex Arctic Shock combined U.S.-Norway airdrop during Ex NORDIC RESPONSE 24

  • Published
  • By By Tech. Sgt Benjamin Sutton
  • 62d Airlift Wing

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 62d Airlift Wing, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and Army Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 11th Airborne Division, 1-501 Parachute Infantry Regiment, from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, participated in a joint airdrop as part of Exercise Arctic Shock March 18, 2024, over Lake Takvatnet, Norway. 

Two C-17 Globemaster IIIs flown by the 7th Airlift Squadron carried 126 U.S. Soldiers and a Norwegian Soldier from Norway’s 2nd battalion over the Arctic pole and into Norway delivering both people and equipment in less than 10 hours showcasing rapid global mobility by projecting air power globally.

“Our mission was Exercise Arctic Shock, which is a sub-exercise of Exercise Nordic Response 24, said U.S. Air Force Capt. Chris Ferrario, 7th Airlift Squadron lead planner. “Exercise Arctic Shock is a joint interoperability exercise employing both the U.S. Air Force and Army forces combined with Soldiers from Norway. We led Exercise Arctic Shock by prepositioning at JBER, picked up our Army counterparts and the Norwegian Army paratrooper, then executed a long-range delivery of both people and equipment.”

The aircrews flew through the night to get the Soldiers into position where they ultimately jumped onto a frozen lake in northern Norway, just after dawn.

“I think this was an amazing way to show both our joint capabilities,” said Ferrario. “Ultimately our job is to enable global movement and maneuver, so joint-service, multi-nation, opportunities like Arctic Shock are vital to meet that goal.”

Once on the ground, the conventional forces from the U.S and the Norwegian soldier who jumped with them will meet up with other ground units and train together near Bardufoss, Norway.

“For the airlift portion, we knew time was a factor, so we flew over the arctic pole and delivered the U.S. Soldiers and a Norwegian Soldier on time to a frozen lake where they jumped out of our aircraft to begin their portion of Exercise Nordic Response 24,” said Capt. Daniel Bostelman, 7th AS instructor pilot. “I was the pilot on the lead aircraft of our two-ship formation and responsible for ensuring the formation flew in unison from Alaska to Norway where the drop zone was located.”

Throughout the flight, pilots communicated between both aircraft and Army units in Norway ensuring all members of the joint-international team were aware of the ground conditions at the drop zone.

“Every airlift mission comes with challenges like terrain, wind, and weather,” said Bostelman. “This time we knew operating in the arctic environment would be a challenge for both people and aircraft, but with expert planning and coordination with our Army counterparts and the Norwegian military, we navigated the difficulties and succeeded together in our mission.”

Months of careful planning finally culminated as the drop zone was cleared for the Soldiers to jump.

“The weather is always a concern for these types of missions, but it calmed down and we were able to get into a position where the Airborne soldiers could safely jump out of our aircraft,” continued Bostelman. “This type of force demonstration is important because it shows our capabilities and the speed at which we can respond and perform, despite any challenge that presents itself. It’s important for the Army to have us to respond quickly so they can complete their specific mission objectives. Any time we have the opportunity to execute a joint maneuver or mission with other services or nations, we take advantage of it and always bring additional loadmasters and maintainers. It’s valuable experience for our entire Air Force team.”

Air mobility operations cannot be successful without dedicated efforts from aircraft maintenance and loadmaster teams. 

“Together, we really are the maneuver,” said Ferrario. “As we were flying into the drop zone, it was incredible seeing the parachute infantry soldiers jumping out of our lead aircraft landing on the frozen lake. This is tough environment to operate in but seeing the parachutes leave the aircraft and fall perfectly onto the lake was incredibly rewarding and exciting. Our maintainers did a fantastic job and I know our loadmasters were excited to assist the jumpers get out the doors safely and on time.”

After dropping the jumpers, the two C-17s flew to a nearby airport where they landed and dropped of the remaining support personnel and supplies.

“Our part in this was a huge success,” continued Ferrario. “It shows we can operate successfully anywhere across the globe, we can accomplish our strategic goals, and display our advanced joint-service and combined-nation war fighting capabilities. This is just another successful example of the Global Air Mobility Support System. The 62d AW showcased our ability to successfully work with other services and nations to move people, cargo, and equipment around the globe.”

After unloading the equipment, members from the 62d AW and 7 AS bid farewell to their Army counterparts wishing them good luck in their next phase of the exercise.

“I want to say a huge thanks to everyone who was involved in the planning and execution of this exercise,” said Ferrario. “It truly was a team effort across services and even nations. It’s such an advantage to have such a significant number of people all working together and supporting each other to reach the same goal.”