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Global Dexterity through Pacific partnerships

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Alan Ricker

ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE BASE AMBERLEY, Queensland — Royal Australian Air Force No.36 Squadron hosted U.S. Air Forces 15th Wing and Hawaii Air National Guard personnel during Exercise Global Dexterity 22-2 at RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland, Australia, Nov. 12-19.

The RAAF and USAF integrated personnel throughout the week-long exercise, which is designed to support the bilateral tactical airlift and airdrop capabilities of both nations.

“The opportunity to integrate with the 535th Airlift Squadron strengthens our relationship, validates our unilateral training and ultimately sharpens our collective readiness to operate effectively alongside U.S. Pacific Air Forces,” said RAAF Wing Commander Dean Bolton.

The eventful week consisted of low-level formations, airdrops, night vision flights, and aerial refueling. For some USAF C-17 pilots, this was the first time they’ve executed aerial refueling with a RAAF KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport.

Integration was not limited to training between the aircrews. RAAF and USAF maintainers were able to operate side by side to ensure both nation’s aircrafts continued to fly and train daily. Intelligence specialists from both nations worked together to create realistic, tactical training scenarios for the exercise.

“The 535th AS and No. 36 SQ make concerted efforts to constantly work together throughout all phases of Global Dexterity, from the planning that begins several months out to all of the execution and debriefs,” said Lt. Col. David Bennett, 535th AS Director of Operations. “Working hand-in-hand as allies in every facet of the exercise naturally builds camaraderie, which inevitably leads to trust, as we conduct interflights in order to share common tactics, instruction techniques and procedural knowledge.”


Both nations worked together to strengthen their military partnerships and demonstrate their mission capabilities to regional countries through the execution of more than 20 sorties, 97.2 hours of flight, 13 airdrops, and the collaboration of 57 personnel.

“Learning and operating in Australian airspace offers another unique facet that is critical in the proficiency and improvements of U.S. Air Force aircrew,” said Bennett. “Further, it affords an immense amount of airspace compared to Hawaii that provides the opportunity for scenarios with numerous players to accomplish various desired learning objectives.”

Towards the end of the week, a sortie was launched from RAAF Base Richmond in northern Australia, flying in a 2-ship formation with integrated aircrews maneuvering at low-level through Papua New Guinea.

“I feel truly blessed to have been able to experience this flight with my RAAF brethren,” said USAF Maj. Joshua Moore, 15th Wing director of agile combat employment. “It was truly one of those once-in-a-lifetime kinds of experiences. It was awesome to be able to fly in that beautiful and rugged terrain and to do so operating seamlessly in an integrated crew. It was all the more surreal to be flying that sortie in another country and to have them see our tail flashes together and showed that our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific is more than just words in a speech.”

This is the first time that Exercise Global Dexterity has been held in Australia since 2019 due to the global pandemic. This is the fourth iteration of the yearly exercise, and the second time it is being held this year.

“COVID was a huge challenge to the 535/36 partnership, and in order to operate jointly in a contested environment, we need to practice together far more regularly,” said Bennett.

“The top lesson learned is that we need to continue these engagements, which is why we are currently working on the next iterations of these exercises,” Bennett continued.

A Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster III flies in a 2-ship formation with a U.S. Air Force C-17 during Exercise Global Dexterity in the skies over Papua New Guinea, Nov. 18, 2022. Exercise Global Dexterity 2022 is being conducted at RAAF Base Amberley, and is designed to help develop the bilateral tactical airlift and airdrop capabilities of the USAF and the RAAF. Both the United States and Australia rely on the C-17A to provide strategic and tactical airlift across the Indo-Pacific region with its ability to provide short-notice and time-critical airlift support, making it essential during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alan Ricker)