During the most recent Deep Freeze C-17 airlift season—which ran from ?Sept. 28, 2016 to March 28, 2017—?airmen ferried nearly 3,000 passengers into the Antarctic supporting the National Science Foundation. Airmen with the Reserve 446th Airlift Wing and the 62nd Airlift Wing deployed as part of the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron to help NSF with its Antarctic Program, according to a release. The program, dating back to 1956, is designed to study the continent and its interaction with the rest of Earth, the US contribution to the Antarctic Treaty, by which nations share research about and protect the continent. “Every aircrew member should know that they laid a foundation that the NSF is now building upon and the mid-winter missions coupled with our [night vision goggles] capability have launched us into a new era for ODF.” said SMSgt. Derek Bryant, a 446th Operations Group loadmaster, in the release. The night vision capability he’s referring has been a game changer in the C-17’s Antarctic operations, allowing it to fly any time of the year since its first use on Sept. 11, 2008. The attached crews, comprising 166 total force personnel and deployed from JB Lewis-McChord, Wash., airlifted 1.8 million pounds of cargo and transported 2,992 passengers during 393 flight hours in direct support of NSF’s Operation Deep Freeze.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.