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U.S. and Pacific Joint Forces Train Together

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Roann Gatdula,
  • 154th Wing Public Affairs - Hawaii Air National Guard

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - Joint Forces from across the United States and the Pacific participated in a large-scale joint training exercise Nov. 1-10 that included the largest airdrop in Hawaii history.

The Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center (JPMRC) rotation is a large-scale training exercise that enables collaboration between 5,300 Active-Duty, Reserve and National Guard members across the U.S. Joint Forces, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Indonesia and Thailand.

JPMRC is the U.S. Army Pacific’s first Regional Combat Training Center (CTC) in the Indo-Pacific and the Army’s first CTC established by the U.S. Army in over 50 years.

“It all started as an on-island partnership with the 25th Infantry Division that has grown in recent years,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Alex Sakovich, 15th Operations Support Squadron, JPMRC lead planner. “Throughout the year, we began to execute local training sorties to move their equipment across the islands. 

“With U.S. Army General Charles Flynn’s vision and the division’s need to train and operate across island archipelagos, the pairing made perfect sense,” Sakovich said. “Being on-island partners allowed us to build direct personal relationships between our leadership and theirs. Consequently, the 15th Wing and 154th Wing became their liaison into the Air Mobility community.”

Airlift Squadrons from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam partnered with several U.S. joint partners from Alaska, California and Arkansas for the JPMRC to coordinate the logistics and airlift movement.

“Airlift logistics is important because funding and focus is usually on weapons, but sometimes what’s missing is, ‘How do we get stuff out there?’” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Evan Kurosu, 204th Airlift Squadron, JPMRC deputy planner.

The training projects dominance of large formation joint forcible entry operations in the Pacific theater and showcases total force integration capabilities on the world stage. JPMRC prepares the joint force to operate in the United States Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility and tackle the agile combat employment objectives in an archipelago flight.

The 15th Wing led planning and strategy with leadership support from the 204th Airlift Squadron. Planning for JPMRC took nine months of coordination between the 535th and 204th Airlift squadrons, alongside U.S. joint and international partners. Those included the 203rd Air Refueling Squadron, 15th Wing Maintenance Group, 517th Airlift Squadron, 729th Airlift Squadron, 41st Airlift Squadron 36th Airlift Squadron, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268, No. 36 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, No. 40 Squadron Royal New Zealand Air Force, and the 436 Transport Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force.

Achievements during the two-week training exercise included the largest airdrop in Hawaii, with 16 aircraft delivering 966 paratroopers and 1.8 million pounds of cargo; the first mass personnel airdrop into Hawaii — 458 jumpers from eight aircraft — and the first back-to-back airdrop operations from 11th Airborne Division Soldiers.

“This exercise was the largest homegrown Mobility Air Forces exercise that the 154th Wing and 15th Wing has ever hosted, featuring 29 aircraft and 148 sorties with aerial participation from the Active Duty Air Force, Army National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command, and the U.S. Marine Corps,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Michael Hank, 204 Airlift Squadron chief of tactics and lead upgrade instructor for JPMRC.

With many units spread throughout the Pacific collaborating, TFI and communication were paramount.

“Communication was critical throughout the planning and execution,” said Sakovich. “JPMRC spanned the entire Pacific. We had C-130s helping us plan from Japan. We had the C-130 lead out in Little Rock, Arkansas. We had the contingency response team out over in New Jersey along with the Air Mobility Operations Squadron. We had U.S. Air Force Major Keely Mahan at March Air Reserve Base leading the airborne operation planning there in addition to the Alaska team. Tying all these people across 12 different time zones made communication critical.”

Mahan, 729th Airlift Squadron Air Mission company commander for March ARB, said the exercise was a unique opportunity.

“We are an airland squadron that rarely has opportunities to train to this level of threat and integration due to not being able to participate in airdrop exercises,” said Mahan. 

Training scenarios took place across Oahu, including at Dillingham Airfield, Wheeler Airfield, Schofield Barracks, Helemano Military Reservation, Bellows Air Force Station, Kahuku Training Area, and the Kawailoa Mountain Ranges, as well as the Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii Island.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” said Hank. “Its applicability not only applies to teamwork among all wings and organizations but also highlights the inherent value of the total force construct. This was a true testament to the hard work and determination that all of the members from all of the organizations put in to see its success.”