109AW Intel Airmen participate in Arctic exercise

  • Published
  • By Ms. Jaclyn Lyons
  • 109th Airlift Wing

Before Canadian Army reservists, and American National Guard Soldiers headed to the Arctic for Exercise Guerrier Nordique 2023 in March, they got briefed on the importance of the training by two New York National Guard Airmen assigned to the 109th Airlift Wing’s intelligence section.

The 109th Airlift Wing, base at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, New York, flies the LC-130 Hercules, which is the largest ski-equipped aircraft in the world.

The 109th’s Airmen are experts at operating at the planet’s poles, and that is true for their intel Airmen, according to Lt. Col. Justin Marrero, one of the wing’s intelligence officers.

The Canadian Forces exercise took place in the northern territory of Nunavut. The New York Air National Guard’s 105th Airlift Wing, which flies C-17 Globemaster III transports, and the 109th provided air transport for the exercise.

The exercise was designed to enhance cooperation and interoperability between Arctic nations and involved a series of simulations and scenarios aimed at testing the readiness and capabilities of participating units.

The 105th moved 200 troops from Canadian Forces Base Bagotville, in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec, north to Resolute Bay and the 109th moved troops out to a forward operating location on the Arctic ice.

But before those troops got on a plane and headed north, they heard from Tech Sgt. Jarrod Fowler, and Staff Sgt Alexander White, 109th Airlift Wing intelligence analysts, about why the training was important.

“We were painting a really good picture for them in terms of why they are a part of the exercise and why it is important,” Fowler said.

“We wanted them to know what adversary nations are doing up in the Arctic and why we need to exemplify that we have a strong ability to show force in the Arctic,” he said.

The two gave Polar intelligence that included real world threat and strategic level briefings for the Arctic region.

Fowler and White, also worked with members of the Canadian Army Reserves 42nd Intelligence Company, based in Quebec City, to develop exercise scenarios.

This was they first time they worked directly with Canadian Forces intelligence analysts, Fowler said.

“It was a really interesting experience supporting bi-lateral Arctic operations, and we learned a lot on both sides,” he said.

Fowler explained that they used historic tactics, techniques, and procedures of Arctic adversary nations to facilitate some good exercise intelligence.

The 42nd intelligence analysts developed the ground-based portions of the exercise scenario, while the 109th analysts helped devise exercise scenarios which tested the aircrews, Fowler said.

“It was nice to take our Arctic knowledge and go work with our main Arctic ally and start operationally using all of this strategic knowledge that we have built up over the last forty years of subject matter expertise,” Fowler said.

This exercise allowed the intel to support the missions up in the Arctic operationally, and also to focus on mission capabilities and the joint intelligence community.

“The intel mission here at the 109th is more of a logical extension of the wing’s Polar mission- but our customer base reaches beyond the support of just our LC-130s here,” explained Marrero.

“We are able to provide a very specialized resource for the joint inter-agency and allies community in the Arctic and Antarctic because of our mission in those regions,” Marrero said.

Throughout the exercise, the intelligence Airmen conducted six exercise scenario briefings and de-briefings.

“We are the polar strategic intelligence subject matter experts for those regions. Our ability to transfer that knowledge to the tactical side is one of our newer strengths we are building with exercises like these, “Fowler said.

The 109th Airlift Wing's participation in exercises like Guerrier Nordique is part of a broader effort by the U.S. military to strengthen its presence and capabilities in the Arctic, Marrero said.

The109th has a long history of supporting scientific research and military operations in the Polar regions. Along with conducting military operations, the wing conducts resupply missions for American scientific research in Antarctica when it is winter in New York and in Greenland during the summer months.