18th AF leadership participates in Operation Deep Freeze

  • Published
  • By Captain Matthew Stott
  • 18th Air Force

Recently, Maj. Gen. Corey Martin, 18th Air Force commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Blount, 18th Air Force command chief, participated in the 68th anniversary of Operation Deep Freeze (ODF). With more than 4,200 hours of flight experience to include the C-17 Globemaster III, Martin flew the aircraft from Christchurch, New Zealand to McMurdo Station, Antarctica in support of the operation.

Operation Deep Freeze is crucial in building relationships with partner nations like New Zealand as well as providing Department of Defense logistical support to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their continued research with the U.S. Antarctic Program.

"Having the opportunity to fly with the crews supporting the National Science Foundation’s work highlighted the unique austerity of this mission,” said Martin. “It takes a holistic team of flyers, maintainers, and support personnel to make it a success each year.”

ODF also showcased how Joint Base Lewis-McChord plans and deploys Airmen for complex missions while exercising mission command. This wouldn’t be possible without the 62nd Airlift Wing and 446th Airlift Wing Airmen, who comprise the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron and Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica (JTF-SFA).

JTF-SFA is responsible for integrating with the NSF and DoD to plan and execute cargo ship offload, mobile causeway assembly, intracontinental resupply, and intercontinental heavy airlift. On average, they transport more than 2 million pounds of cargo and 2,000 personnel to and from McMurdo Station each year with the C-17.

The C-17, with its small airfield footprint and capability to rapidly deploy helicopters, large concrete building supports, vehicles, station machinery and equipment, food, and personnel, has proven to be the ideal aircraft to provide support for science exploration in Antarctica.

“The heavy airlift provided by the C-17 gives the National Science Foundation increased logistical efficiency with ongoing infrastructure modernization at McMurdo Station, allowing for greater capacity for science in the future,” said Lt. Col. Anna Fischer, JTF-SFA Chief of Staff. “The professionalism and aviation expertise provided by members across several active-duty and reserve C-17 squadrons showcases the effective construct of operations and training within the Air Mobility Command community.”

ODF is a testament to the global reach of AMC and its ability to employ Command and Control in remote, austere environments, as well as 18th Air Force’s mission to provide ready aircraft, Airmen, and equipment… anytime, anywhere.

“I am certainly proud of the long history that mobility aircraft like the C-17 have had with Operation Deep Freeze,” Martin concluded.