Two air forces cooperate on Ex Mobility Guardian

Cohesive integration with partner forces is an essential ingredient for success on international exercises, as proven by 13 Squadron at RAAF Base Darwin during Exercise Mobility Guardian.

CAPTIONRoyal Australian Air Force and US Air Force refuelling specialists discuss the refuel of a KC-135 following its arrival at RAAF Base Darwin for Exercise Mobility Guardian. Story by Flight Lieutenant Claire Campbell. Photo bySergeant Pete Gammie.

The exercise demonstrated the criticality of air mobility in the Indo-Pacific region and involved multiple locations and coalition partners, including the United States Air Mobility Command and Australia.

A key element of interoperability was enacted by air movements and aviation refuelling sections of 13 Squadron, where United States Air Force (USAF) and RAAF aviators worked together to meet short timeframes, as Officer-in-Charge Movements Flight Lieutenant Rob Bartholomew-Walsh explained.

“Exercise Mobility Guardian has had an intense focus on integration and interoperability, especially at the combat support level,” Flight Lieutenant Bartholomew-Walsh said.

“We’ve been able to see many sections be integrated with USAF personnel and each section has learnt a lot about what the USAF do at their end.

“That level of integration has been amazing – we’ve learnt a lot about base constructs, a deployable air head and how a base could be stood up with a bilateral force.”

CAPTION: Cargo is unloaded from a US Air Force KC-135 after arriving at RAAF Base Darwin for Exercise Mobility Guardian. Photo by Sergeant Pete Gammie.

The start of Exercise Mobility Guardian focused on ensuring all USAF personnel were trained in Australian standards, especially in the operation of trucks and how to troubleshoot so they could get onto the tarmac and start refuelling.

This was a key focus area for aviation refuelling supervisor Corporal Kevan Pendlebury.

“We integrate well because we’re all from a fuels background,” Corporal Pendlebury said.

“USAF personnel pick up everything we need to teach them fairly quickly and we can get them behind the wheel of a truck and delivering fuel to where it’s needed.”

Aerial Port Operations Officer 728th Air Mobility Squadron Major Will Stephenson described the intent of Exercise Mobility Guardian as operating a ‘lily pad’ system to ensure mobility across the world.

CAPTIONUS Air Force airmen with the 92nd Air Refueling Wing with RAAF aviators at RAAF Base Darwin during Exercise Mobility Guardian. Photo by Airman 1st Class Stassney Davis.

Air Mobility Operations Wing showcased their ability to move capability from one location to another, embedding with their Australian counterparts and providing uninterrupted aerial port and maintenance functions across the Indo-Pacific region.

“Our interoperability relies on our partnership between one another,” Major Stephenson said.

“My air mobility team were able to arrive, integrate with 13 Squadron, and share our skills to ensure we continue to grow stronger and showcase our mobility to ensure security in the region.”

Flight Lieutenant Bartholomew-Walsh said Exercise Mobility Guardian was incredibly valuable in testing the responsiveness of 13 Squadron and understanding the roles and responsibilities RAAF and USAF each have during these large international exercises.

CAPTIONUS Airmen signal to the pilot of a US Air Force C-5 Galaxy at RAAF Base Darwin. Photo by Airman 1st Class Stassney Davis


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