By MS. KIM KNIGHT, Staff Writer
MOBILITY GUARDIAN 2019 was our safest MG exercise to date. Planners created challenging scenarios, and the crews were vigilant managing the risks involved. Risk management was prevalent from the initial planning through execution and that showed during the day-to-day operations. The end result was that we had no major mishaps and every crew and aircraft returned home safe to their home units and countries.
Days / Missions: 15/388 FOBs Opened: 3 AeroMed Evac Totals: • Missions: 64 • Patients: 1,633 Airland Totals: • Passengers: 987 • Cargo: 3,291 short tons Airdrop Totals: • Personnel: 472 • Container Delivery System: 306 • Heavy Equipment Platforms: 37 Air Refueling Totals: • Missions & Receivers: 94 / 168 • Fuel Passed: 644K lbs FAFB ISB Fuel Totals: • Issued: 2,562,965 gal • Received: 1,661,316 gal • FORCE Bladder: 552,399 gal
“Shoulder to shoulder with our partners, MOBILITY GUARDIAN offered an opportunity to test the success of Air Mobility Command’s transformation into a warfighting headquarters to ensure we are more seamlessly integrated into coalition and joint operations, more responsive to the Combatant Commanders, and able to posture our mobility forces to compete, deter, and win with speed and agility,” said General Maryanne Miller, Commander of Air Mobility Command.
“In line with Air Mobility Command’s transformation into a warfighting headquarters, large-scale exercises like MOBILITY GUARDIAN 2019 allow us to prepare for full-spectrum conflict and test our capabilities in a contested, degraded, and operationally-limited environment,” Miller added.
Col Derek Salmi, Commander of the 92d Air Refueling Wing (ARW), Fairchild AFB, WA, said the exercise provided Airmen, sister services, and international partners an invaluable opportunity for joint training in simulated contested environments that have been outlined in the National Defense Strategy. “One of the unique aspects about the U.S. is our extensive network of allies. In part, AMC’s ability to extend global reach depends on that network so opportunities like this allow us to train and to build those relationships and learn from each other,” he said.
MOBILITY GUARDIAN’s purpose is to build interoperability through challenging scenarios that push the boundaries for all involved. Identifying strengths and weaknesses as a joint force and international coalition during the MG19 exercise allows for strategic changes to be made before threats emerge to ensure AMC is always ready as a mobility enterprise for the nation.
The 92 ARW conducted a joint exercise with the Army 82d Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, NC. The joint forcible entry exercise began with several C-130s and C-17s at Pope AFB, NC, and ended six hours away over drop zones in Yakima, WA. The nighttime airborne assault jump is an example of being able to airdrop airborne units into a contested environment while flying through ranges with simulated threats likely to be encountered in the current international conditions. In another simulated hostile environment, 470 paratroopers were airdropped by U.S., Australian, Canadian, United Kingdom, and New Zealand aircrews.
“It tested their tactics, techniques, and procedures to see where we need to be, what we might need to adjust, and how to better enhance training moving forward,” Salmi explained. “Not only to get the 82d Airborne in there but also to prove we can resupply them and keep the airfield open while the environment is contested.”
He cited cyberwarfare, particularly involving installations, as another aspect of the future of conflict needing to be addressed in MG19. He explained that cyber-oriented training was essential during the exercise to enhance participants’ training for combating high-end threats.
“Exercising through communication degradations here at the installation level tested our ability to generate air mobility when we don’t necessarily have the communications we are accustomed to,” he said. “We may face nontraditional security threats that we need to respond to while keeping our focus on getting aircraft airborne to carry out our commander’s priorities.”
Preparing for the near-peer adversaries of the modern world is critical to implementing the 2018 National Defense Strategy. In turn, exercises like MG19 become even more vital in improving the readiness and interoperability of all components while developing the leaders of tomorrow.
Miller said, “This year’s MOBILITY GUARDIAN scenario offered participants a taste of the future of warfare, which will be increasingly joint and coalition, trans-regional in nature, and will require us to act with greater speed and precision.”