Aircrews Put Air Power on Display during Exercise

Two heavy container delivery systems plunge from the back of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft to forces on the ground during the simulated Rainier War Dec. 6, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Russ Jackson)
Two heavy container delivery systems plunge from the back of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft to forces on the ground during the simulated Rainier War Dec. 6, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Russ Jackson)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash.  -- Aircrews from Joint Bases Lewis-McChord, Pearl Harbor-Hickam, and Elmendorf-Richardson departed from McChord Field, Washington, in five C-17 Globemaster III aircraft Dec. 6, to participate in realistic and complex training the Air Force has to offer during a joint forcible entry exercise over the Keno drop zone, Nevada.

McChord augmented this Air Force-level exercise, however two additional "wars" were developed by students from the 62nd Wing Tactics and Intel Weapons Course.

Together, all three of these events provided training for future weapons school students, integrated training for lead air drop upgrade candidates, and provided a unique opportunity for senior leader participation and observation.

"This is as complex as it gets. We don't do this on a normal basis," said Col. David Kumashiro, 62nd Airlift Wing commander, talking to the 40 aircrew members. "Realize that it's a dynamic environment that we live in and so your preparation is the foundation for being able to respond."

The Joint Concept for Entry Operations doctrine defines forcible entry as the seizing and holding of a lodgment in the face of armed opposition. The exercise tested the Air Force's ability to tactically deliver and recover combat assets via air drops in a contested environment.

Entry operations enable broader strategic goals, such as removing threats to the free flow of commerce, interdicting weapons of mass destruction threats, demonstrating U.S.' resolve in response to a crisis which includes showing support for international mandates, deterring aggression, or when necessary, defeating enemy forces on foreign territory.

During the day, McChord crews teamed up with aircrews from Hickam and Elmendorf as they engaged in the fabricated Rainier War. The mission was to depart McChord Field in a five-ship formation, perform low level flying, heavy container delivery system air drops, and conduct two elements of two-on-two air refueling with a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft from Fairchild Air Force Base's 92nd Air Refueling Wing before participating in the JFE.

The five aircrews met at a flying squadron early in the morning to receive their final briefing.

"This is day one and night one of the war," said Capt. Cliff Caldwell, 62nd Operations Support Squadron wing weapons and tactics director. "This is us going in and taking all the training that we do and putting it all together and focus on application of combat skills."

The crews departed the airfield together in quick succession in order to fly in a five-ship formation as they made their way to engage in the Rainier War.

The Rainier War concluded after heavy CDS air drops and aerial refueling. Then, the McChord crews joined a larger formation of C-17's amounting to 14 total jets. In the skies with them were 27 of the C-130 Hercules cargo planes along with 59 other aircraft from bases across the country.

Overall, JFE included more than $8 billion in assets, more than 1,000 total personnel to include six general officers. The cargo ships dropped a simulated 2,381 paratroopers, 32 pieces of heavy equipment and 80 CDS bundles.

The entire exercise was conducted without any issues and showed, once again, why the U.S. Air Force is the leader in air power world-wide.

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