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NY Air Guard crews train with Danes in Greenland

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Daniel Farrell
  • 106th Rescue Wing

KANGERLUSSUAQ, GREENLAND – Thirty-four New York National Guard Airmen from the 109th Airlift Wing and the 106th Rescue Wing teamed up with Denmark’s Joint Arctic Command during a search and rescue exercise in Greenland from Nov. 3 to Nov. 9, 2021.

The 109th Airlift Wing, based at Stratton Air National Guard Base outside Schenectady, deployed one LC-130 ski-equipped aircraft and 17 personnel, while the 106th Rescue Wing, based at Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach on Long Island, deployed an HC-130J search and rescue aircraft along with 17 personnel.

The 109th Airlift Wing operates regularly in Greenland, resupplying science facilities there from Greenland’s Kangerlussuaq International Airport.
It was a new mission, though, for the search and rescue Airmen.
“This was out chance to dip our toes in cold weather and Arctic operations,” said Lt. Col. Sean Garell, the commander of the 106th Rescue Wing’s 102nd Rescue Squadron, which flies the HC-130s.

“We wanted to look at the 109th approach to cold weather operations because they have experience when it comes to Greenland and Antarctica,” Garell said.
The search and rescue exercise, dubbed Arctic Light, included the Royal Danish Air Force, the Danish Special Operations Command and Denmark’s Joint Rescue Coordination Center which is responsible for search and rescue operations in Greenland.

Greenland is a self-governing part of the Kingdom of Demark, so the Danish military is responsible for defending the island.

The exercise focused on the ability to activate, deploy and redeploy capabilities in an Artic environment, according to Maj. Christopher Husher, the 109th’s lead exercise planner.

The New Yorkers received tasks from the Joint Arctic Command to aid in the search and rescue mission.

The training scenario called for Danish personnel to conduct ground operations following a tsunami which hit Qoornoq, located on Greenland’s northeastern coast.
The Arctic Light exercise was a perfect fit for the 106th because it revolved around a search and rescue mission, Garell said.

The main mission of the New York Air National Guard contingent was to drop supplies to the Danish troops on the ground, Husher said.

“We were essential to operations for this exercise,” Husher said.
“We conducted three airdrops between the 109th and the 106th, consisting of survivability rations, equipment, and tactical gear. We even dropped a boat for Danish search and rescue personnel,” he said.

The 109th dropped an inflatable boat, properly known as a combat rubber raiding craft, or a CRCC for short, along with scuba equipment, and rations, said Tech. Sgt. Logan Brennan, a loadmaster with the 109th Airlift Wing.

The boat was dropped on a combat expendable platform, a fancy term for a pallet built for one-time use when dropping non-standard loads, Brennan explained.

“The significance of the drop, was that we were able to showcase an underutilized skillset for us as loadmasters and a capability for the 109th as a whole,” Brennan said.

The 106th Airmen conducted a low-level mountain flying and a resupply airdrop to a Danish special operation forces team as their part of the mission.
The ration filled bundle landed less than 10 meters from target, culminating a successful exercise for the participants, Garell said.
“The hardest part about conducting multinational exercises is working through the communication barrier,” Husher explained.

“Something as simple as sending a drop zone survey or reading through an air tasking order instantly becomes a huge task when electronic systems don’t talk to each other,” he said.

“Exercising this capability and continuing to operate in a joint environment with our allies will not only enhance our ability to work together, but will foster better working relationships for the future,” Husher added.

The 106th Airmen learned a lot, Garell said
“We learned what we can do with the aircraft to keep them running, how we adapt our employment, our training,” Garell said.
“Whether it be a downed aircraft over the icecap, a sinking ship in the fjord, or some sort of international conflict; the capabilities and techniques that were used in Arctic Light will be integral to addressing whatever circumstances that we or our allies encounter in the Arctic, “ Husher said.

“Opportunities like this build trust and operational familiarity between partners,’ He added.