400 “Arctic Angels” land at Fort Wainwright for a forced entry exercise

Fort Wainwright, Alaska (KTUU) – Four hundred U.S. Army paratroopers, known as the Arctic Angels, dropped into Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson early this morning.

It was all part of a joint multinational Pacific-Alaska exercise designed to prepare them for cold weather combat operations.

According to John Pennell, chief of media relations with the US Army’s 11th Airborne Division, this is the first time that number of soldiers have landed at Fort Wainwright as part of an exercise of this magnitude.

“The Arctic has kind of been pushed to the forefront of most people’s minds with global climate change, the melting of the ice, the opening of the Northwest Passage,” Pennell said.

The airport is bordered on several sides by the Chena River, with a river rescue team stationed on both sides of the waterway, the US Army Garrison at Fort Wainwright said in a statement. According to the statement, no serious injuries were reported during the exercise, and all passengers landed at the airport.

Pennell said more such training operations will be held in the coming days to help the Army prepare and train for cold weather and air operations.

“This is incredibly important as we rebuild our focus in the Arctic for the troops here in Alaska,” he said. “We’ve gone, you know, 20 years into the global war on terror, where we’ve moved away from our bread and butter, which is operating in the environment here in the Arctic.”

Military representatives from Chile, Nepal, Mongolia, Norway, Germany, Canada, Finland, Italy and Japan also participated in the Pacific Multinational Training Center in Alaska.

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