Alaska, Canada conduct joint acrctic SAREX
By Tech. Sgt. John Gordinier
Alaskan Command Public Affairs
Nov. 4, 2013 —
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- More
than 100 servicemembers from the Alaska National Guard, U.S. Army
Alaska, Canadian Joint Operations Command and Joint Task Force-Alaska
joined together to participate in an Arctic Search and Rescue Exercise
in Anchorage and Fort Greeley, Alaska, Oct. 30-31.
"The goal of the exercise was to test the interoperability of U.S. and
Canadian SAR forces and equipment in an Arctic SAR response," said Mr.
Jeff Fee, chief of the JTF-AK Training and Exercises Directorate. "It
helped ensure we can successfully carry out our mission, improves our
collective ability to operate in humanitarian missions such as SAR and
builds a framework for international cooperation."
The team responded to a simulated aircraft crash near the Alaska - Canada border where 30 survivors were rescued.
Why this scenario and why Alaska? Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for
people in Alaska to fly or boat to remote towns and villages under
unpredictable weather conditions and experiencing challenging terrain.
According to Air and Space Magazine, more small, private aircraft
crashes occur here than in any other state.
The exercise was staged out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in
Anchorage, Alaska, but the exercise was conducted in the vicinity of
Fort Greely, Alaska, with multiple aircraft from different units
The responding aircraft included a combination of U.S. and Canadian
aircraft. Helicopter participation was U.S. HH-60, UH-60, CH-47 and a
Canadian CH-149. Fixed wing participation included multiple versions of
U.S. and Canadian C-130 SAR and airlift aircraft, as well as a U.S.
C-17. U.S. combat rescue officers, pararescue personnel and Canadian SAR
technicians responded along with U.S. and Canadian Army support
personnel. The teams worked together to locate the crash site, provide
necessary resources to the scene such as the Arctic Sustainment Package,
rescue the survivors and render medical aid.
The Arctic Sustainment Package is a capability in development and is
being exercised in a "proof of concept" status, said Mr. Paul
VanderWeide, JTF-AK SAR Program Manager. The concept is to rapidly
deploy survival, sustainment and medical capability to survivors in
remote Arctic conditions via fixed wing aircraft in order to keep them
alive until they can be rescued by helicopter or surface vehicles.
The package can keep up to 25 survivors alive for 72 hours and include
life support items such as food, water, tents, generators, survival
suits and medical equipment and paramedics, explained Mr. VanderWeide.
"This exercise builds on the historic cooperation between U.S.
servicemembers and our neighbors in Canada to perform together, react to
a tragedy, and save lives, This exercise is a superb example of the
teamwork required to successfully accomplish the SAR mission in the vast
and unforgiving Arctic region," said Lt. Col. Karl Westerlund, Director
of the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center
"A robust Arctic SAR capability is essential, we are showing in this
exercise a practical example of how our response capability can be
used," concluded Mr. VanderWeide. "When called upon, the Joint, Total
Force Team of Alaska alongside our Canadian counterparts will be ready