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Team McConnell joins U.S., International partners at Exercise Mobility Guardian 2023

  • Published
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

A McConnell team is demonstrating the KC-46’s capabilities in an international exercise in the Indo-Pacific region, starting July 5.

That combined McConnell team of active duty and Reserve Airmen from the 22nd and 931st Air Refueling Wings is participating in Exercise Mobility Guardian 2023, Air Mobility Command’s largest full-spectrum readiness exercise in the command’s history.

This year’s MG23 reflects an evolution from the exercise’s previous three, U.S.-based iterations, and aims to understand and overcome the tyranny of distance to deliver the mobilization, deployment, and sustainment functions that the Joint Force and Allies and partners depend on to respond to challenges worldwide.

“It should be evident by now that success of the Joint Force requires a capable and integrated Mobility Air Force,” said Gen Mike Minihan, AMC commander. “MG23 will turn planned integration into operational integration within the theater, stretching MAF capabilities to meet future demands and protect shared international interests with our Allies and partners.”

A multinational endeavor, MG23 will feature seven participating countries – Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States – operating approximately 70 mobility aircraft across multiple locations spanning a 3,000 mile exercise area through July 21. MG23 will employ 3,000 personnel in direct support of the exercise and expects to support more than 15,000 U.S. forces and Allied and partner participants associated with other exercises this year, seven times that of MG21 and nearly three times that of MG19.

Planning began in the spring of 2022 for the Pacific endeavor involving more than 200 planners from across AMC, including the headquarters staff, 18th Air Force, the 618th Air Operations Center and the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center. Included in that planning is use of the KC-46, AMC’s newest tanker aircraft. Team McConnell has been rapidly advancing the KC-46’s capabilities and knowledge base over the past two years, with Mobility Guardian serving as another waypoint in the KC-46’s journey toward Full Operational Capability.

"We've been looking forward to Mobility Guardian for months, to bring our team to operate KC-46s and show our fellow Airmen and our Allies and Partners the advanced capabilities that the KC-46 Enterprise brings to our Global Mobility mission,” said Maj. Sean King from the 349th Air Refueling Squadron and McConnell’s Detachment Commander for Mobility Guardian.

AMC exercise planners partnered with planners from dozens of additional Air Force, Joint, and international units to ensure the exercise delivers on its intent to demonstrate interoperability across Joint and combined international forces.

“The collaboration and connection formed alongside our DoD teammates and our Allies and partners during planning and execution will pay dividends today, tomorrow, and into our unquestionably complex future,” said Lt. Col. Jake Parker, MG23 exercise director.

Concurrently to MG23, Parker said the MAF will also serve as the “cohesive glue” for a series of other exercises occurring across the Indo-Pacific this summer. AMC’s role in enabling the meaningful maneuver of forces throughout the theater underscores the necessity of logistics and realistic interoperability in the region.

Each participating country has the opportunity to hone vital readiness skills and enhance interoperability in operationally limited environments among multiple mission areas to include airlift, aerial refueling, aeromedical evacuation, the Global Air Mobility Support System, command and control, and humanitarian and disaster assistance.

“This is not a pass or fail scenario,” said Parker. “This is a proving ground for the MAF’s new status quo tested through the application of flexible and agile concepts. The MAF will do its part to ensure the Joint Force and our Allies and partners can overcome transnational security challenges by redefining what MAF readiness looks like.”

Minihan made it clear that preparation for MG23 was not restricted to a selective group of planners – taking heed to what Minihan said was Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr.’s directive to “Go Faster.” When he took command in October 2021, Minihan propelled the command toward droves of unconventional but risk-informed approaches, guiding the way AMC conducts business.

From the dozens of wing-led large-force drills exercising Agile Combat Employment and Multi-Capable Airmen, to working a path that operationalized the KC-46A Pegasus, the command’s approach throughout the last year was designed to generate an unprecedented level of readiness and advantage for the Joint Force.

“The Mobility Air Forces’ success is non-negotiable and non-transferable, and the implications of a less-than-fearless and less-than-first class MAF are severe,” said Minihan. “We fully understand the magnitude of responsibility that rests on our shoulders, and we will deliver what is required to serve our fellow Allies and partners and preserve our nation’s sacred peace, prosperity and prestige.”

To keep up on all the Mobility Guardian 2023 action, visit: and