MANADO, Indonesia --- The seventh iteration of Cope West, a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored, bilateral tactical fighter aircraft exercise involving U.S. and Indonesian air forces, concluded with a closing ceremony at Sam Ratulangi International Airport, Manado, Indonesia, June 28.
Cope West is designed to advance interoperability and build upon already-established partnerships between U.S. military forces and Indonesian air forces, with the end goal of enhancing both sides’ combat capabilities and unit readiness.
Brig. Gen. Ryan Okahara, Hawaii Air National Guard commander, and Air First Marshal Widyargo Ikoputra, Iswahjudi Air Force Base commander, attended the ceremony to recognize the Cope West ‘19 participants’ accomplishments.
Both commanders began their closing remarks thanking the service members for the hard work they put into preparing and executing another successful iteration of Cope West.
“This joint exercise achieved key objectives,” said Ikoputra. “Together, we built interoperability in terms of coordination, communication and cooperation in planning and conducting joint air operations.”
Over the course of the two-week exercise, the two services flew a combined total of 130 sorties, affording both countries the opportunity to exchange knowledge and tactical consideration in modern air combat warfare during close air support training and air-to-air fighter training. Simultaneously, eight subject-matter expert exchanges occurred across various career fields.
Approximately 110 U.S. service members from the 14th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, Misawa Air Base, Japan, and 150 Indonesian service members, worked side-by-side to improve mutual understanding and build the U.S.-Indonesian partnership.
“The ties that bind us during Cope West are important to enhancing security cooperation and to advancing the strategic partnership between Indonesia and the United States,” said Okahara. “No single nation can ensure security and stability alone, and this exercise serves as an example to the region of how partners can cooperate toward a common objective.”
Okahara spoke about the multiple engagements over the past several months between the United States and Indonesia.
“Our frequent engagements are proof that we have a strong air force-to-air force relationship, and this is something to be celebrated during the 70th year of diplomatic relations between the United States and Indonesia,” said Okahara. “We look forward to working with the Indonesian air force to increase the complexity of Cope West next year to take advantage of the F-16 upgrades and enhancements that Indonesia will receive.”
Okahara and Ikoputra echoed one another, expressing the most valuable takeaway from the exercise was a stronger relationship between the two nations.
Following the closing ceremony, Maj. Brian Morrissey, 14th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander, expressed how proud he was of his Airmen for accomplishing their day-to-day mission and stepping outside of their designated career fields to lend a helping hand wherever needed.
“This is by far the most successful exercise I have been a part of,” Morrissey expressed. “Every single Airmen demonstrated the highest level of professionalism and dedication vital to the mission. The relationships we built here will carry on into the future.”