The 43rd Airlift Group exercised their global response force mission by participating in Joint Operational Access Exercise 13-02 with U.S. Army and Canadian partners at Pope Field, Feb. 25 through 28.
JOAX is a combined and joint training exercise designed to prepare elements of the 82nd Airborne Division, along with its partners and enablers, to respond as part of the GRF. The GRF is a force dedicated to maintaining the capability of deploying on short notice anywhere in the world by land, air, or sea to conduct a variety of mission sets. As an element of the GRF, the 43rd Airlift Group provides precise outload, en route support, and mobility operations, enabling the 82nd Abn. Div.’s unique joint forcible entry capability through airborne and air assault operations within hours of notification. Missions can range from humanitarian assistance to providing additional combat capability to an area of operations.
Maj. Daniel Shoaf, chief of Integration and Exercises, 43rd Operations Support Squadron, noted the exercise offered Airmen a great opportunity to practice execution of a key joint mission .
“We provide a unique strike force option for the global response force by delivering a brigade combat team via Mobility Air Forces to anywhere in the world,” Shoaf said. “When we come together for this exercise, the Air Force brings a portion of that air power and puts into practice the tactics, techniques and procedures that would be required of us if we were called upon to support the GRF.”
Outlining the airlift group’s ability to project and sustain combat power, Shoaf explained “Our primary mission is to out-load the Army here at Pope Field, then ensure they reach the objective area — on time and on target. After the initial strike, our main mission moves into resupply and providing air cover for the forces on the ground.”
This has been the most successful JOAX in over 11 years,” Shoaf added. “We generated a 94 percent sortie rate and dropped over 5,800 paratroopers this exercise. Although we were able to significantly exercise our all weather airdrop capabilities, weather proved challenging and we lost some opportunities to drop paratroopers due to low cloud ceilings.”
Unique to this JOAX was the first Royal Canadian Air Force participation in a JOAX. Canadian Air Force C-17, Globemaster III, C-130J Hercules aircraft, paratroopers, commanders and support personnel integrated with U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army personnel and exercise operations.
“The Royal Canadian Air Force participation in this exercise was seamless for the 82nd Airborne Division as they couldn’t tell if they were jumping from a RCAF C-130 or USAF C-130 Hercules aircraft,” Shoaf said. “Our two countries not only participated in aerial flight together, but the mission planning cell was multinational as well, allowing the exchange of ideas on command and control and planning. As two nations, we are walking away with a lot of great data points on how we would execute the GRF together. Finally, we built an amazing relationship and foundation of trust that will last well into the future.”