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Air Force’s 18th Wing conducts WestPac Rumrunner exercise with Navy, Army and Marine Corps partners

The Air Force’s 18th Wing based out of Kadena Air Force Base in Japan conducted the first ever WestPac Rumrunner exercise Jan. 10 — along with partners from the Navy, Army and Marine Corps.

“This event was a big win for us in the Pacific,” Brig. Gen. Joel Carey, commander of the 18th Wing, said in an Air Force news release on Jan. 10.

The service said the exercise, crafted by the 18th Wing, is intended to bolster joint interoperability and push airmen to employ continuous airpower using tactics stemming from the Pacific Air Force’s agile combat employment concept of operations, known as ACE.

“Being able to test our ACE capabilities with our joint partners highlights the importance of interoperability and the capabilities of our Airmen and sister services,” Carey said. “Working in conjunction with the Navy, Army and Marine Corps was crucial to the success of Rumrunner and its ability to be a powerful learning tool moving forward.”

ACE concepts are still being tested out and aren’t restricted to current maintenance doctrine or tactics, according to Lt. Col. Johnny West. As a result, senior leaders want maintainers and logisticians to implement innovative strategies to combat potential road blocks that would arise in a highly contested environment, he said.

“Today’s Rumrunner exercise allowed us to practice operating in a simulated austere environment, which is fundamental to the ACE concept, and our maintainers successfully refueled F-15s and launched them back into the air.”

Aircraft involved in the exercise included the Air Force’s F-15C Eagles and the Navy’s F/A-18E and F/A18-F Super Hornets as part of a realistic training scenario, along with the KC-135 Stratotanker to refuel aircraft.

The Air Force’s E-3 Sentry, the Navy’s E-2 Hawkeye, and the 18th Wing’s 623rd Air Control Squadron also coordinated to provide air-to-air and air-to-ground command and control as they fed targeting information the Army’s 1-1 Air Defense Artillery’s Patriot surface-to-air missile battery.

“As we executed this first iteration of Rumrunner, the exercise development team monitored how well our distributed joint forces came together and applied elements of ACE to disperse, recover and rapidly resume operations,” Capt. Brian Davis, 67th Fighter Squadron F-15C evaluator pilot and exercise director for WestPac Rumrunner, said in an Air Force news release Jan. 10. “The Rumrunner team looks forward to how we will continue to evolve and hone our procedures in the future.”

In total, more than 60 aircraft and 300 personnel across multiple services were involved in the exercise to help promote safety in the Indo-Pacific region.

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