PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii --- Airmen from the 613th Air Operations Center here were the nerve center for the movement of seven C-17 Globemasters carrying almost 450 U.S. Army paratroopers on a non-stop flight from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, to Royal Australian Air Force Base Amberley, Australia, July 8.
The 613th AOC provided this 22-hour command and control capability, which included two Royal Australian Air Force C-17s from the 36th Airlift Squadron, four C-17s from Air Mobility Command and one C-17 from Pacific Air Forces completing the training across two hemispheres in one day, as part of Talisman Sabre 15.
“There were many moving parts involved with launching these aircraft and getting them to Australia in a secure manner and more than a thousand people were involved in successfully completing this operation,” said Maj. Kaialii Kahele, 613th AOC Air Mobility Division airlift control team chief. “This was the kick off to Talisman Sabre, the largest Pacific Command exercise, and it was successfully completed as a joint, coalition effort that demonstrated our global reach and global power.”
To allow for a non-stop flight, four KC-10 Extenders from Travis Air Force Base, California, and three KC-10s from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, created an air bridge in the skies above the Pacific, delivering 804,000 pounds of fuel.
“The refueling piece happened in 35 minutes with no issues,” said Kahele. “This coordination displayed our unity of effort and it demonstrates how we can reach anywhere around PACAF -- 52 percent of the world’s surface, at any time.”
Before the aircraft touched down at RAAF Amberley, Soldiers with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division from Fort Richardson, Alaska, parachuted onto Kapyong Air Field, Queensland, Australia.
“The air drop commenced precisely in the five minute window,” said Kahele. “This demonstrated the strategic air power of the U.S. and Australian Air Forces with our coalition partners. At the time of the jump I looked at my watch and knew that somewhere over Australia the 4th Brigade is jumping out of U.S. and Australian C-17s; I had a part in that, and it almost felt like I was there.”
Airmen and their Australian counterparts also worked the command and control piece together in the AOC where they stayed in constant contact with the C-17 and pilots, ready for any unplanned contingencies like changes in weather or aircraft issues.
“I have been associated with numerous Talisman Sabre exercises and the USAF integration with the RAAF is not only vastly improved over the years, but it is relatively seamless at this point and a critical enabler for contingency operations in the Pacific,” said Col. David Moeller, 613th AOC commander.
About 30,000 U.S. and Australian personnel will participate in the exercise throughout the Pacific region stretching from the California coast to Australia. Talisman Sabre is a jointly sponsored exercise by the U.S. Pacific Command and Australian Defense Force Headquarters Joint Operations Command, which will run through July 19.