Behind the Scenes of RIMPAC: P-3C Tactical Operations

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BY COMMANDER PATROL AND RECONNAISSANCE WING TWO PUBLIC AFFAIRS KANEOHE BAY, HI – Now that Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) has officially commenced the emphasis is focused primarily on the missions being conducted, but seldom do the folks behind the scenes of the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance (MPR) community, the ones who support the missions, receive any notice.

Combined Task Force (CTF) 172, led by Capt. Rod Urbano, Commander of Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing TWO, is the governing body for the MPR side of RIMPAC.


Comprised of maritime patrol aircraft from different 5 countries, this Task Force provides the backbone of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) for RIMPAC forces.

CTF 172 is further broken down into two combined task groups (CTG): CTG 172.1, comprised of P-3C squadrons from the U.S. and Japan; and CTG 172.2, with squadrons from the U.S., Australia, Canada, and South Korea.

Each CTG operates exclusively apart, with CTG 172.1 supporting the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 72) Strike Group, and CTG 172.2 supporting the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Expeditionary Strike Group, but they also work together fighting the ASW battle that is mutual amongst the two strike groups.

The Tactical Operations Center (TOC) and Mobile Tactical Operations Center (MTOC) provide the necessary ground support to all the P-3C
aircrews flying in RIMPAC in the form of intelligence requests, weather briefings, mission communications, data links, and operational and
technical support. The TOC supports CTG 172.1 and the MTOC supports CTG 172.2.

“Our purpose is to provide 24/7 operations support for CTG 172.2 and to work along side the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) in order
to support our CTF 172 Commander,” Lt. Cmdr. Manuel Cortes, Officer in Charge, MTOC.

P-3 aircrews are highly trained to fly a variety of missions. But how do they know what mission they will fly? This comes from their respective
operations centers, who receive tasking from the Combined Force Maritime Component Commander (CFMCC), in the form of the air tasking order (ATO),
and the Strike Groups through their daily intentions messages. The operations centers receive the tasking, collect the information
pertaining to the tasking, and provide the aircrew briefs to prepare them to execute the missions.

During preflight, the aircrews are briefed at the TOC/MTOC on tactical protocol and coordination of the mission. After they complete the
mission, the aircrew is debriefed at the TOC/MTOC to collect the mission data and create post-mission products that provide force commanders with
actionable tactical data. The operations centers guide them each step of the way by preparing and conducting the briefs, maintaining
communications during flight, and debriefing the crews for post mission analysis and mission reconstruction. Without the TOC and MTOC, MPR
tactical missions would not be possible.

“The MTOC is composed of 11 hard working individuals carrying the workload of twice that many, it’s an exhausting responsibility, but a very rewarding one.” Lt. Cmdr. Cortes.

RIMPAC is a biennial, multinational exercise designed to strengthen regional partnerships and improve interoperability. It is an exercise designed to bring multinational military assets together to train towards bettering our capabilities.