JBER hosts first Arctic Skills Certification Training Course

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Julia Lebens
  • JBER Public Affairs
The first iteration of the Eleventh Air Force’s Arctic Skills Certification Training Course took place at Camp Mad Bull March 22 through 24.

The three-day course is designed to teach Air Force members stationed in Alaska the fundamental survival skills associated with living in an Arctic climate.

"I'm very excited to see the Arctic Skills Certification Course underway,” said Chief Master Sgt. Kristopher Berg, senior enlisted leader, Alaskan NORAD Region and Alaskan Command, and command chief, Eleventh Air Force. “This course evolved from the Air Force Arctic Strategy and is a new edition under the larger Arctic Leader Qualification Program umbrella. Our goal is to give Airmen the confidence to not just survive, but thrive, while operating and living in Alaska."

The course is taught by a small cadre of volunteer instructors from throughout Eleventh Air Force. The volunteers learned from experts with different outdoors expertise, including Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists, safety specialists, and others, to ensure they could then teach students and keep them safe during the course.

“This is the course we developed to give experience to Airmen newly arrived in Alaska who have never experienced the climate, wildlife, and general hazards that are unique to Alaska,” said instructor Tech. Sgt. Jesse Johnson, the construction management noncommissioned officer in charge assigned to the 611th Civil Engineer Squadron. “We want to teach students to feel comfortable making a shelter, making a fire and how to have the ability to procure and store sustenance if and in case they run into that need while outdoors in this vast state.”

Day one of this course is academic, with subject matter experts from different fields teaching classes on survival topics such as wildlife, sustenance, health, and medical and personal protection. The second day of instruction is conducted in the field, learning how to build a fire and shelter and survive outside in the Alaskan winter. That night, students sleep in a shelter they build themselves before packing out on the last day.

“I learned a lot from the course,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Anthony Lachat, an aerospace medical technician assigned to the 673d Medical Group Family Health Clinic. “I am new to Alaska, new to the wildlife and new to the environment. I am not as outdoor savvy as I would like to be, but I now have a new respect and basic knowledge to build from and confidence to get out and explore.”

Ideally, this course will be offered to newcomers to Alaska, eventually building up a team of educated cadre able to support volunteers and those interested in learning about the Arctic skills required to survive outdoors in harsh conditions.