JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --- Nearly 30 partner nations are participating alongside U.S. counterparts during Air Mobility Command's Mobility Guardian exercise, which kicked off across Washington state yesterday and concludes Aug. 12.
The exercise aims to enhance the U.S. military's global response force by integrating in complex, realistic mobility training with partner nations, AMC officials said.
Fully-integrated events during the exercise will allow for strategic interoperability in support of real-world operations, said Air Force Maj. Thomas Rich, joint task force director of operations for Mobility Guardian.
"We're pushing the tactical edge," Rich said. "We're putting aircraft from different nations close together in a tight airspace in a dynamic threat environment. There's a little bit of inherent risk in that, but that's what we want to do here so that everybody is ready when we do it for real."
More than 650 international military personnel and 3,000 U.S. military service members will focus on AMC's four core competencies -- airlift, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation and air mobility support -- said Air Force Col. Clinton Zumbrunnen, the exercise's international observer mission commander. Zumbrunnen said he hopes Mobility Guardian, which is planned to be held biennially, will attract additional allies to attend and will encourage observers to return as participants in the future.
Col. Jose Antonio Morales, training commander for the Brazilian air force's 5th Wing, echoed this hope for his own country. "We are trying to arrange a lot of new exercises and interchanges between our countries," he said. "We are all so proud to represent our country and our air force and participate in this very important exercise."
Scheduled events include formations of aircraft from the United States, Brazil and Colombia and a joint forcible entry from an intelligence alliance composed of service members from the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada.
Capt. Patrick Rodrigue, a Canadian Forces Aeromedical Evacuation Unit flight nurse, offered his take. "It's very important for us to get out there and actually practice our mission and get to practice our capacity as well as joint interoperability," he said.
Nations participating as observers also play a vital role by strengthening partnerships and becoming familiar with U.S. training, tactics, and procedures. Zumbrunnen said observers will be paired with U.S. crew members to see as much of the air mobility process as safely and securely as possible.
Mobility Guardian will focus on U.S. airmen to operate alongside international service members. Rich explained that this maximizes the efficiency of the entire Air Force and its interoperability during real-world contingencies.
Enhancing Power Projection
Zumbrunnen said the effort to enhance unrivaled power projection capabilities is not possible without the help of U.S. allies. "I have not deployed anywhere or gone anywhere in my duty as an airlift pilot where there was not an international presence," he added.
Mobility Guardian offers an avenue for testing the full spectrum of AMC's capabilities, exercise officials said, and also incorporates opportunities to exchange mobility expertise with international counterparts to create worldwide impact.
The United States does not go to war without allies, so it's important that Mobility Guardian develops power projection capability.