Largest Air Mobility Command Allied Power Projection Exercise: Mobility Guardian 2017
2017-08-12 Mobility Guardian aims to enhance the U.S. and allied military’s global response force by integrating in complex, realistic mobility training with partner nations.
Mobility Guardian is Air Mobility Command’s premier exercise, providing an opportunity for the Mobility Air Forces to train with joint and international partners in airlift, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation and mobility support.
Video by Staff Sgt. Jael Laborn
U.S., International Partners Kick Off Mobility Guardian Exercise
By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jodi Martinez375th Air Mobility Wing
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., Aug. 1, 2017 — Nearly 30 partner nations are participating alongside U.S. counterparts during Air Mobility Command‘s Mobility Guardian exercise, which kicked off across Washington state yesterday and concludes Aug. 12.
The exercise aims to enhance the U.S. military’s global response force by integrating in complex, realistic mobility training with partner nations, AMC officials said.
Fully-integrated events during the exercise will allow for strategic interoperability in support of real-world operations, said Air Force Maj. Thomas Rich, joint task force director of operations for Mobility Guardian.
“We’re pushing the tactical edge,” Rich said. “We’re putting aircraft from different nations close together in a tight airspace in a dynamic threat environment. There’s a little bit of inherent risk in that, but that’s what we want to do here so that everybody is ready when we do it for real.”
More than 650 international military personnel and 3,000 U.S. military service members will focus on AMC’s four core competencies — airlift, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation and air mobility support — said Air Force Col. Clinton Zumbrunnen, the exercise’s international observer mission commander.
Zumbrunnen said he hopes Mobility Guardian, which is planned to be held biennially, will attract additional allies to attend and will encourage observers to return as participants in the future.
Col. Jose Antonio Morales, training commander for the Brazilian air force’s 5th Wing, echoed this hope for his own country. “We are trying to arrange a lot of new exercises and interchanges between our countries,” he said. “We are all so proud to represent our country and our air force and participate in this very important exercise.”
Scheduled events include formations of aircraft from the United States, Brazil and Colombia and a joint forcible entry from an intelligence alliance composed of service members from the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada.
Capt. Patrick Rodrigue, a Canadian Forces Aeromedical Evacuation Unit flight nurse, offered his take. “It’s very important for us to get out there and actually practice our mission and get to practice our capacity as well as joint interoperability,” he said.
Nations participating as observers also play a vital role by strengthening partnerships and becoming familiar with U.S. training, tactics, and procedures.
Zumbrunnen said observers will be paired with U.S. crew members to see as much of the air mobility process as safely and securely as possible.
Mobility Guardian will focus on U.S. airmen to operate alongside international service members. Rich explained that this maximizes the efficiency of the entire Air Force and its interoperability during real-world contingencies.
Enhancing Power Projection
Zumbrunnen said the effort to enhance unrivaled power projection capabilities is not possible without the help of U.S. allies. “I have not deployed anywhere or gone anywhere in my duty as an airlift pilot where there was not an international presence,” he added.
Mobility Guardian offers an avenue for testing the full spectrum of AMC’s capabilities, exercise officials said, and also incorporates opportunities to exchange mobility expertise with international counterparts to create worldwide impact.
The United States does not go to war without allies, so it’s important that Mobility Guardian develops power projection capability.
The second half of Exercise Mobility Guardian began Aug. 6, 2017, and will focus on training aircrew on advanced tactical air operations.
Following the successful execution of the joint forcible entry, ground forces established control over Moses Lake, which enabled the transition to sustainment operations.
“Mobility Guardian has tested our ability to prepare and deliver the force,” said Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, commander of the Air Mobility Command. “Now it will test our ability to sustain the force and, after the mission is over, ensure the joint force returns home.”
The Army’s 62nd Medical Brigade enabled the first step in the sustainment phase, said Air Force Lt. Col. Jeremy Wagner, the Mobility Guardian director. The brigade executed humanitarian relief operations after the 82nd Airborne Division accomplished a joint forcible entry and seized the airfield at Moses Lake. From there, components of the 7th Infantry Division, Stryker Brigade Combat Team, took over the airfield and established their power projection.
These movements enabled the 621st Contingency Response Wing to begin air base opening operations at Fairchild Air Force Base, Moses Lake, and Yakima, Washington.
International teams working with ground forces will also provide force protection during the sustainment phase. The Number 2 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, one of the international teams, will provide airfield security for the 621st CRW.
“They are force multipliers,” said Wagner. “They’ve been very involved and have shown how capable they are as our partners.”
International teams will remain integrated during the 500-plus flights that were planned in support of Mobility Guardian, said Wagner. During the sustainment phase, aircraft will continue to deliver materials to support the ground forces’ humanitarian efforts, but the air operations are expected to become more difficult.
“We’ve been airdropping an incredible amount of equipment to some of the displaced humanitarian relief operations” said Wagner. “Now it mostly focuses on getting advanced tactical training for our aircrews. When we’re done with that, we can start heading home.”
This training includes air drops in difficult locations, opportunities to test practice threat systems that detect ground enemies, and C-130 Hercules wet-wing defueling, Wagner added.
For Everhart, this advanced exercise is a testament of the abilities that U.S. and international service members provide the global response force.
“Global reach is not a birthright for America; it requires hard work, preparation, investment, and training,” said Everhart . “Mobility Guardian offers our Airmen vital experience to excel in any environment, applying lessons learned from years of war to deliver a realistic and challenging training environment for not only the Air Force but our joint and international partners as well.”
By Tech. Sgt. Jodi Martinez, 375th Air Mobility Wing, 375th Air Mobility Wing