Mobility Airmen project global power alongside U.S. Army, Thai partners

Paratroopers of 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, rig and inspect their parachutes during a 17-hour flight in a 517th Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III. The five-ship C-17 formation refueled twice during the trip. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. William Banton)

Paratroopers of 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, rig and inspect their parachutes during a 17-hour flight in a 517th Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III. The five-ship C-17 formation refueled twice during the trip. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. William Banton)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Alongside their U.S. Army and Thai partners, Mobility Airmen recently demonstrated the capability to project power globally during the combined exercise Cobra Gold 2014.

Cobra Gold, which focuses on a tactical, humanitarian and civil assistance scenario, brings together multiple nations to exercise combined operations in support of the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.

"From the top down, this exercise was important to demonstrate to the Thai allies, our friendship and U.S. security cooperation," said Air Force Col. Tony Schenk, mission commander from the 437th Operations Group, Joint Base Charleston, S.C.

Air Force and Army planners started working in October to execute the mission, Schenk added.

The planners looked at everything from how to keep Soldiers hydrated and rested on the18-hour flight from Alasak to Thailand, to the gear needed to operate in diverse environments. These considerations were important because the U.S. contingent departed subfreezing arctic conditions and then conducted a large-scale airdrop of paratroopers into Thailand's tropical environment, exercise officials said.

The planning also involved integrating airlift assets from three Air Force wings: the 3rd Wing from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; the 62nd Airlift Wing from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; and the 437th Airlift Wing from Joint Base Charleston, S.C. In addition, planners also faced the complex effort of coordinating diplomatic clearances for multiple countries and working with Japanese and Thai officials to coordinate air space. To reach the final destination, the pilots also had to accomplish multiple air refuelings.

"The Air Force, the C-17 crews specifically, had the opportunity to work directly with our partners, the 4/25 [the Army's 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division], to project global power and to demonstrate exactly what our airborne brethren bring to the fight - as well as our ability to deliver them worldwide," said Air Force Capt. Christopher Prentiss, the lead Air Force mission planner, from the 437th.

"This exercise was our opportunity to demonstrate, in conjunction with the Army, our capability to go anywhere in the world and provide humanitarian and disaster relief," Prentiss added.

Schenk described the relationship between the Air Force and Army as one of synergy. The colonel highlighted the importance of continuing to develop the relationship with Army counterparts and the 4/25th.

"They can't do what they do without us and vice versa," Schenk said. "The reason we have those airplanes is to demonstrate those capabilities. We have crew members that always strive to be outstanding and the Army has Soldiers whose goal is to be outstanding," Schenk said. "In this particular exercise, we strove for perfection together and I think that Col. (Matt) McFarlane (4/25 IBCT commander) and I had a great relationship and we executed it together."

Editor's Note: This story is an adaptation of "JBER's joint capabilities support Thai partners" a story by Air Force Staff Sgt. William Banton of, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs
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