JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — Military personnel from more than 20 countries converged at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington this week with a common goal: to learn from each other.
The participants and observers in Mobility Guardian, Air Mobility Command’s first-of-its-kind readiness exercise, were looking forward to seeing how each other operated once they took to the skies for different training scenarios and missions.
Air Mobility Command is hosting its inaugural Mobility Guardian readiness exercise in the Pacific Northwest to integrate more airmen into training that puts all of AMC’s capabilities to the test. Think of it as the mobility equivalent of Air Combat Command’s Red Flag exercise.
The exercise includes participants from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Republic of Korea, and the United Kingdom.
Observers included Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Gabon, Germany, Japan, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
Air Mobility Command, headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, reached out to various countries to find out what kinds of simulated missions they wanted to work on and what they wanted to see, Col. Clint ZumBrunnen, the exercise’s international observer mission commander, told Air Force Times on Tuesday in Washington.
For example, the British Royal Air Force brought its new Airbus A400M plane, the first time it has participated in an exercise of this scale. A number of countries are using the four-engine, turboprop tactical airlifter to replace older aircraft, such as the somewhat smaller C-130 Hercules
Operated by two pilots and a weapons systems operator, the aircraft has the ability to carry a 25-ton payload more than 2,300 miles to remote airfields, or by landing on short, semi-prepared strips.
“They wanted to integrate the A400 into a large exercise,” ZumBrunnen said. “They also brought an aeromedical evacuation team. From a U.S. perspective, we’re happy to see other countries work on their AE skills.”
The French air force also brought its A400M, which will participate in airdrop missions during the exercise.
“We were really interested in trying to be as integrated as possible in airdrops because that is a major capability,” said French Maj. Eric Brunet, who was in charge of preparing the French team for Mobility Guardian.
Brunet said he and his airmen want to compare the way they use their aircraft to how other countries use theirs to make sure their way is as efficient as possible.
“Being involved in a realistic situation is a great opportunity to do that,” he told Air Force Times the day before the training missions began.
ZumBrunnen said the Colombian air force is also interested in airdrops.
“They’ve taken great pains to become good at airdrops,” he said. “They’re pretty good at what they do and are excited to show that they can integrate into an exercise like this.”
Lt. Col. Robert Quiroga, commander of the Colombian air force delegation, said Mobility Guardian is an important exercise for Colombia because its airmen can expand their capabilities here.
“This is a good opportunity to share experiences and get knowledge from others,” he said.
Sgt. Melissa Vivian, a C-17 loadmaster with the Royal Australian Air Force, said even though Australia and the United States fly the same aircraft with the same checklists, both countries perform operations a little differently.
“If we see [the U.S.] doing better business, hopefully we can take that back home and maybe change some of our procedures,” she said.
And vice versa: “If [the U.S.] is doing something better or we’re doing something better, I think we can both learn from that.”
Charlsy Panzino covers the Guard and Reserve, training, technology, operations and features for Army Times and Air Force Times. Email her at email@example.com.