BY TECH SGT COHEN A. YOUNG – JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – Airmen from the 970th Airborne Air Control Squadron, 513th Air Control Group, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, arrived at the base on July 11 in support of RIMPAC, the world’s largest maritime exercise.
The multinational exercise is in its 22nd year and is comprised of 14 nations, 32 ships, five submarines, more than 170 aircraft and 20,000 personnel.
The 970th AACS’s mission belongs to the E-3B Sentry, Airborne Warning and Control System or simply known as the AWACS. The AWACS is a high altitude radar system designed to detect aircraft.
This is the first time the 970th has been involved in the biennial exercise and the squadron has greatly benefited from the opportunity.
“This is our unit’s first attendance in RIMPAC,” said Lt. Col. Curtis Andersen, a pilot with the 970th AACS.
“This has been outstanding training, and the most realistic training that we’ve had since the unit left the war (in Iraq),” added Colonel Andersen.
RIMPAC is very realistic because it is designed to increase the tactical proficiency of participating units in a wide array of maritime operations by enhancing military-to- military relations and interoperability.
“This was our first time to work with our international partners,” added Andersen.
“The Japanese brought their destroyers and Singapore brought their stealth frigate; there are a lot of firsts with this exercise.”
The huge amount of training received here at RIMPAC is unequaled to what the 970th can acquire during normal scenarios in Oklahoma.
“This is probably 10 times better than the normal training we are able to get at home,” said Andersen.
“At home we simulate enemy and friendly surface-to-air missile systems, while here the
SAM systems that are coming from the boats are real, which allows us to conduct realtime responses for our warfighters,” added Andersen.
The participation of the Oklahoma Reservists is an example of the total force integration concept that the U.S. Air Force has been using more and more of as they move into the future. The unit has worked with active duty, National Guard, and other Reservists from the Air Force, Navy and Marines.
“There’s a huge array of the Air Force’s total force involved in RIMPAC and no one can tell because it’s seamless and transparent,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Harwood, the Combined Force Air Component Commander for RIMPAC.
RIMPAC is a Pacific Fleet led exercise that will continue in the waters of the Hawaiian Islands until August 1.
Tech Sgt. Cohen A Young, Defense Media Activity, Hawaii New Bureau authored this report