Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at kcapps@newsminer.com, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

The U.S. Army’s Arctic Warrior 21 exercise will launch this week, in the Donnelly Dome area, south of Delta Junction.

In preparation for that, paratroopers with the 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, constructed an ice bridge stretching one mile across the frozen Delta River on Jan. 20-21.

We’re creating an area for tracked vehicles or wheeled vehicles to get across a wet gap crossing,” said 1st Lt. Jenna Forrester in a video posted by the U.S. Army. She is a platoon leader.

To make sure the ice is safe, paratroopers used ground penetrating radar to measure ice thickness. They also took safety precautions including roping up and distancing from each other, in case of thin ice.

“It (ground penetrating radar) allows us to see how the ice depth varies through the entire river,” she said. “Whether ice goes all the way through to the bottom of the river or if we’re hitting air pockets or water pockets.”

Tracked vehicles need thicker ice than wheeled vehicles, she said.

The paratroopers also used ice augers to help create the ice bridge. 

“Normally, we pump water from below the surface to try to create a larger sheet of ice, allowing us to drive heavier equipment across for strategic value,” said Spc. Tyler Gilmore, on another posted video.

The training, he said, was “awesome.”

“You can’t find this anywhere else in the world,” he added. 

Arctic Warrior 21 is a cold weather training event that includes airborne operations, situational training exercises and live fire exercise. It happens Feb. 8-19 in the Donnelly Training area and the Richardson Training area. 

During Arctic Warrior 21 “a battalion task force that includes cavalry, engineer and sustainment units for support, will conduct an airborne insertion to Donnelly Drop Zone and face a near peer opposition force,” according to the U.S. Army.

The exercise demonstrates the brigade’s ability to rapidly deploy a battalion-sized force and operate in an Arctic environment. Winter field training will also take place.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at kcapps@newsminer.com. Follow her on Twitter @FDNMKris.