Island agility proves force readiness

On Tinian, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the Royal Australian Air Force deployed forward with their multinational counterparts from the United States and Japan to conduct agile operations for Exercise Cope North 24.

CAPTIONA US Navy MH-60S Seahawk takes flight at Tinian North during Exercise Cope North 24. Photo by Leading Aircraftwoman Maddison Scott.

Projecting air power through the hub-and-spoke model, RAAF personnel formed an integrated force comprising United States Marine Corps (USMC) F/A-18D Hornets, United States Navy (USN) MH-60S Seahawks, and multilateral air mobility assets including Japan Air Self-Defense Force (Koku-Jieitai) aircraft.

RAAF Detachment Commander for Tinian North, Wing Commander David Bruhwiller, led a multilateral element of RAAF, US Air Force (USAF) and USN personnel.

“During Cope North 24, 383 Contingency Response Squadron’s primary goal was to establish integrated coalition agile airbase spokes in Tinian North and West,” he said.

“We showcased our capabilities and ensured that we were able to conduct insertion and sustainment operations in an austere environment over a period.”

CAPTIONRoyal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Air Movements aviators and United States Air Force (USAF) Porters unload cargo from a RAAF C-27J Spartan (A34-008) using a USAF All Terrain Materials Handling Forklift. Photo by Leading Aircraftman Kurt Lewis.

The exercise provided essential training for the RAAF to integrate with Pacific Air Forces, Koku-Jieitai, and other multilateral partners to ensure air power for Australia and its interests.

Contingency response squadrons (CRS) are a key enabler of agile operations as they provide and sustain the infrastructure required to project air power from remote locations.

USAF Lieutenant Colonel Steve Smith, Commander of the 36 Contingency Response Squadron, noted that the Tinian spoke aimed to foster partnerships and align tactics and procedures.

“The RAAF and USAF have worked alongside each other in this exercise and integrated in every facet of operations,” Lieutenant Colonel Smith said.

“Exercises like Cope North are so important because it allows our coalition partners to learn together, develop procedures together, and foster interoperability in a peacetime environment.”

Tinian provided a key opportunity for RAAF CRS aviators to develop skill sets and exposure to a high-tempo operational environment, and cooperate with USAF and Koku-Jieitai platforms.

“Our strength was our ability to fully integrate with USAF CRS elements, USMC and USN within our locations and foster the relationships and enhance our capabilities,” Wing Commander Bruhwiller said.


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