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Kentucky Guard Airmen Support South Pacific Exercise

  • Published
  • By Dale Greer,
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

SAN JOSE, Northern Mariana Islands - A Kentucky Air National Guard team arrived Feb. 12 to handle cargo and aircraft maintenance for Cope North, a multinational exercise to enhance combat readiness in the South Pacific.

The Airmen from the 123rd Contingency Response Group arrived Feb. 12. They will be sharpening their rapid mobility and air base-opening capabilities for 10 days, said Col. Ryan Adams, group commander.

Contingency response elements are a kind of “air base in a box” — a broad team of Airmen who can deploy to a remote, non-functional airfield to establish air cargo and passenger operations within hours of arrival. These teams bring everything they need to be self-sufficient, from electrical generation, communications gear and security forces to cargo-handling equipment, aircraft maintenance and airfield control.

“Our element is designed and employed with agility in mind, well before the Agile Combat Employment construct was formalized for the broader Air Force,” Adams said.

Working from Tinian International Airport on the island of Tinian, the team of 14 Kentucky Airmen is loading and unloading cargo and providing quick-turn maintenance for one aircraft at a time in support of joint and combined combat operations.

“They will support multiple C-130s, including two C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the Kentucky Air National Guard, Pave Hawk helicopters, and aircraft from the Japanese Air Force,” Adams said. “This team of multi-capable Airmen also will conduct airfield survey and assessment, engine-running offloads and wet-wing defueling as they operate under remote and austere conditions.”

Following operations on Tinian, the 123rd is expected to rapidly redeploy to Rota in the Northern Mariana Islands, where they will train with active-duty Airmen from the 921st Contingency Response Group based at Travis Air Force Base, California.

“Cope North provides a rare opportunity for the Total Force to exercise this unique mission capability in the demanding environment of the South Pacific,” Adams said.