81st Civil Support Team leaves Bismarck for Arctic training

BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) — On Tuesday, the North Dakota Air National Guard loaded supplies onto cargo planes and departed the state for a training mission in arctic conditions. Oh the irony.

This C-17 Globemaster aircraft will take 18 members of the 81st Civil Support Team for training in Alaska. The big military transport plane came from Mississippi. This type of aircraft is used to perform tactical and strategic airlift missions, including transporting troops and cargo around the world. Stopping in Bismarck is unusual.

“Today’s event is actually a very big event for us, we don’t often get air loads flying into Bismarck, North Dakota. We don’t have that type of aircraft in the North Dakota,” Lt. Col. Patrick Flanagan said.

The C-17 will pick up personnel and equipment to take to Alaska for a two-week exercise. They will provide a unified command suite that allows soldiers to interact with other agencies. It is important that equipment be tested in cold weather to ensure it works, however, North Dakota is not ideal for such testing.

“It’s a shortcoming that these equipment have, their LED screens. And when you take them outside and it’s below zero, the battery capacities drain very quickly. So we have people from different industries coming in to test new things as well,” Flanagan said.

The other reason this exercise is important is to build relationships in case disaster strikes.

“When we exercise, it gives us the opportunity to work closely with them. So in the event that a real incident happens, we have already established those relationships, we already know different capabilities and how we are going to respond,” Flanagan said.

As part of Exercise Arctic Eagle-Patriot, the Alaska Air National Guard will host interagency partners for homeland security and the emergency response mission in and around the Arctic.

The exercise will last until March 10 and will involve personnel from 15 states.

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Richard V. Johnson