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Air Mobility Command exercise expedites Joint Force capabilities

A U.S. Air Force C-5M Super Galaxy, carrying U.S. Marine Corps Bell AH-1 Cobra helicopters, is refueled on the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii flightline on July 9, 2023. International and Joint forces honed readiness and interoperability in challenging environments across missions including aerial refueling, aeromedical evacuation, the Global Air Mobility Support System (GAMSS), command and control, and humanitarian and disaster assistance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Madeline Baisey)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- In an endeavor to understand the challenges and tyranny of distance within the Pacific theater, Air Mobility Command has completed phase 1 of Mobility Guardian 2023. The exercise fosters interoperability between Allies and partners as well as Joint Forces, in the maneuvering of more than 15,000 U.S. and international forces associated with other exercises across the Indo-Pacific.

Headquartered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, the Exercise Control Group is made up of dozens of exercise planners consisting of Air Force, Joint and international units. Connecting the diverse breadth of functions is key to the mobilization, deployment and sustainment needed to transmit the Joint Force and their equipment to any global location when it’s needed.

"The collaboration and connection formed alongside our DoD teammates and our Allies and partners during planning and execution will pay dividends today, tomorrow and into our unquestionably complex future," said Lt. Col. Jake Parker, MG23 exercise director.

One of the units include a team of U.S. Marine Air and Ground Task Force planners, Sgt. Heather Dilcher, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and Lance Cpl. Veronica Huerta, 1 Marine Expeditionary Force.

“The Marine Corps happens to be performing exercises in theater at the same time and we needed a lift in order to move our people out into the theater and conduct our exercises,” explained Dilcher.

Through months of coordination, the 60th Air Mobility Wing, Travis Air Force Base, California, was able to provide a C-5M Super Galaxy to support the Marine Corps mission; a team effort that required continuous communication.

The C-5 has the capacity to hold more than 281,000 pounds and can fly farther than 2,500 nautical miles without aerial refueling, making it an essential asset across the Department of Defense.

“This is my first time working jointly in this type of capacity, and I think it’s been going really well,” said Dilcher. “The commander here has been receptive to us working here. He’s given us access to everything we need to be involved in and ensured our access to equipment and space we need to conduct our mission.”

The MAGTAF planning team coordinated with the helicopter's home station and the 60th AMW to ensure all the cargo was prepped and ready to go when the C-5 arrived. Preparation included removing and folding the aircrafts rotors to ensure multiple would fit inside the Super Galaxy.

“It was a pretty simple process,” said Senior Airman Christopher Medina, 2nd Airlift Squadron loadmaster. “The Marines knew exactly what to do and how to set up all their cargo. Because of their preparation, it was really easy for us to pull [the helicopters] in.”

This is the first year Mobility Guardian has taken place in the Indo-Pacific, a clear shift from the exercise’s previous U.S.-based iterations. The purpose of this iteration is to truly understand the challenges the tyranny of distance and contested logistics can present when it comes to delivering Rapid Global Mobility for the Joint Force and our Allies and partners. The Mobility Forces will serve as the cohesive flue that enables the meaningful maneuver for the Combined Joint forces across a variety of exercises this summer in the Indo-Pacific theater.

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