Inside the Gates: Soldiers fight subzero temperatures as they train to fight in the Arctic

Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 7:06 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The work never ends for the Army’s “Spartan Brigade,” even in subzero temperatures.

“Right now we just jumped out of an airplane for a joint forcible entry operation rehearsal into the Arctic,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Allen Mortensen, of the 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Airborne

He is part of the Army Alaska’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division taking part in Arctic Warrior 21.

The cold weather training exercise is underway at the Donnelly Training Area, near Fort Greely.

“It ensures that our equipment is properly maintained,” said Spc. Andrew Allen, an information technology specialist. “Especially for these types of things we do every year, annually, we have to ensure that we have proper training, proper equipment and our soldiers are well prepared for these types of environments.”

The exercise finds more than 1,000 paratroopers involved in the role of an invading force. They help other U.S. and Canadian forces train for combat in the Arctic. One thing the soldiers keep an eye on during the nearly two-week drill: equipment failures.

“Find equipment shortfalls and kind of provide that feedback to the Army to further develop some of our Arctic capabilities,” said Mortensen.

The exercise continues on the ground even when temperatures dip to -40. However, jumps can be halted due to safety concerns when it gets too far below zero. The aircraft flies at around 140 miles per hour when the soldiers jump, any exposed skin can develop frostbite instantly.

Part of Arctic Warrior 21 is also taking place at the Richardson Training Area near Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson. The exercise wraps up on Feb. 19.

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