Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cope North kicks off at Andersen AB

by Airman 1st Class Whitney Tucker, 36th Wing Public Affairs

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFNS) -- More than 1,000 military members from units spanning the Pacific are ready to kick off exercise Cope North 2012, which runs from Feb. 11 through 24.

The trilateral, multinational exercise is designed to enhance air operations between the U.S. Air Force, the Japan Air Self Defense Force and the Royal Australian Air Force.

"The relationships built and sustained with our multinational partners in the Asia-Pacific region through exercises, civil-military operations and military exchanges help tremendously in preserving peace and stability in the region, including humanitarian efforts and disaster response," said Maj. John Greven, assigned to the 13th Air Force's Detachment 1 at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

During Cope North, participating forces will demonstrate the ability to effectively deploy forces and train together to improve aircrew abilities to employ tactical air power as a multinational force, exercise officials said. Andersen AFB has hosted Cope North for 10 years as a bilateral training event between the JASDF and U.S. Air Force. This year's exercise marks the first time the RAAF will participate, further demonstrating the regional allies' resolve to promote security and cooperation in this area of responsibility.

The field training exercise focuses on coordination and evaluation of air tactics, techniques and procedures between the three nations.

"Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises, dissimilar air combat training, and strike mission training will be conducted during the first week of the exercise," said Maj Greven, the lead planner for this year's Cope North. "Large force employment training will be the focus of the second week. Additionally, JASDF and USAF will conduct live surface attack tactics training on the Farrallon de Medinilla range in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands."

For only the fourth time in Cope North history, dedicated opposing forces will be integrated in the exercise for training purposes.

"The aggressor aircraft will primarily be played by F-16 Fighting Falcons out of the 18th Aggressor Squadron from Eielson AFB, Alaska," Greven said. "The B-52 Stratofortresses out of the 23rd Bomb Squadron from Minot AFB will be one of the units that will participate as both blue air, or friendly forces, as well as being tasked to simulate opposing forces during some days of the exercise. "

The U.S. military is always seeking opportunities to strengthen its relationship with other partner nations through activities such as subject-matter expert exchanges, host-nation visits, bilateral engagements, and multinational exercises and operations, such as those experienced at Cope North, officials said.

"As I experienced firsthand during Operation Tomodachi, there is tremendous value added in working and exercising side-by-side with our allies," Greven said. "When real-world events occur, these training events improve our capability to operate in a multinational environment and respond effectively and efficiently. We also send an unequivocal message that our nations are committed to continued peace and stability in the Pacific theater."