Friday, July 20, 2012

California Air Guard members participate in largest Rim of the Pacific exercise

By Air National Guard Master Sgt. David J. Loeffler, 144th Fighter Wing, California National Guard

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcons from the California Air National Guard’s 144th Fighter Wing, have begun to rip across the blue Hawaiian skies as more than 25,000 U.S. and foreign military service members participate in the 2012 Rim of the Pacific exercise.

RIMPAC 2012 – largest Rim of the Pacific exercise ever – is the twenty-third exercise in a history of bi-annual drills that dates back four decades, providing a unique and dynamic training environment in which multiple nations can exchange ideas and train together with the primary mission of securing open sea-lanes and protecting maritime lines of communication.

Since its inception in 1971, RIMPAC has grown in overall numbers as well as numbers of countries participating with India, Russia, Norway, Mexico, the Philippines, and Tonga participating for the first time this year.

“RIMPAC is a great opportunity for our team,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Seyfarth, the project officer of the 144th FW. “We will be working with 22 nations, 42 surface ships, seven submarines, more than 170 aircraft, and over 25,000 personnel.

“This will be the largest RIMPAC exercise to date. The lessons learned and experience gained in integrating with the other international exercise partners will be invaluable,” he said. “This exercise allows us to work with our partner nations at both a strategic and tactical level.”

The 144th FW arrived here July 13 with eight of their F-16s, 32 pallets of cargo, and 110 California Guard members. The wing’s mission will be to launch sorties to meet the air tasking order, providing a unique opportunity for the pilots of the 144th FW to fight in a joint dissimilar air combat environment with other U.S. Air Force and Navy units, as well as Canadian air force units.

“We have brought over one hundred highly dedicated and well trained Airmen to this RIMPAC exercise to support our mission,” Seyfarth said.

“None of this would be possible without the support from the most junior Airman on the maintenance or logistic teams all the way up the chain. Without their hard work and dedication, our pilots don’t fly,” said Seyfarth.

The best training comes when the unit executes its primary mission of air dominance while providing air escort for large strike packages against simulated air and surface threats.

“During the exercise, the wing will be flying over 140 sorties, which equates to approximately 300 hours of flight time,” Seyfarth said. “This training is perfectly tailored to allow our pilots and Airmen to train to our primary real-world mission of providing air superiority worldwide,” he said.

The men and women of the 144th FW will continue to support the RIMPAC exercise through its conclusion in early August.