Exercise brings joint team together for 'demanding' mission
By Maj. Michael Meridith, 18th Air Force
/ Published March 08, 2013
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Hundreds of total force mobility Airmen and nearly 20 aircraft participated in a Joint Operation Access Exercise alongside U.S. Army Soldiers and Canadian Forces servicemembers at Pope Army Air Field, N.C., Feb. 22 through March 1.
JOAX prepares air mobility forces along with Army and Canadian paratroopers, to respond as part of the Global Response Force. The GRF is a joint force that can deploy on short notice anywhere in the world by land, air, or sea to conduct a variety of missions.
"JOAX is designed to enhance cohesiveness between U.S. Air Force, Army and allied personnel," said said Air Force mission commander Col. Paul Eberhart, 62nd Operations Group commander at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. "Training in a joint environment allows us to conduct operations that a single service would be unable to perform. I'm very happy with the way we came together and worked toward a common goal."
Exercise participants included Air Force C-130 Hercules, C-17 Globemaster IIIs, and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, crews, maintainers, security forces, contingency response Airmen, and tactical air control party members from bases across the country, in addition to Soldiers from the Army's 82nd Airborne Corps and Canada's 3rd Royal Canadian Regiment.
The Air Force team executed more than 125 sorties, dropping 5,800 troops and delivering more than 409 short tons of cargo with refueling aircraft providing more than 520 thousand gallons of fuel.
According to exercise planners, the joint team successfully met all of their training objectives and aided one brigade combat team in achieving jump currency while preparing another for an upcoming overseas deployment.
"JOAX allows the Air Force to train in one of our most demanding missions: large formation airdrop," said Harry Anson, lead planner at the 18th Air Force, which oversaw the Air Force contribution to the exercise. "By interacting and working closely with their joint partners, Airmen in JOAX are able to develop refinements to processes and procedures that can potentially enhance the effectiveness of real-world operations."
Eberhart echoed those comments, noting that the success of JOAX sends a strong message about the capabilities the Air Force-Army team provides the Nation.
"Large formation airdrop is essential to our national defense and it is important for us to exercise it. Only the United States has this incredible capability of rapidly introducing forces into hostile environments to conduct operations - whether combat or humanitarian support. It really illustrates the critical partnership between the mobility Air Forces, the joint team and our international partners."