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PACAF, allies prepare for the future; complete large-scale exercise in the Pacific

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Gerald Willis
  • Pacific Air Force Public Affairs

While the Air and Space Forces Association Warfare Symposium was taking place in Colorado, Pacific Air Forces Airmen were already implementing the vision – more large-scale exercises with allies and partners in the region. 
Cope North 24 is aggressively practicing multinational combat and mobility Air Force employments, focusing on interchangeability between U.S., Royal Australian Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, Republic of Korea Air Force and French Air and Space Force mobility assets. 
“This Cope North we focused on getting all our allies and partners locked in on a common goal to tackle this massive lift operation together,” said Capt. Marko Popovich, 18th Wing logistics officer and Cope North USAF logistics lead. “Our goal was to make mobility aircraft across the region interchangeable. Maximizing space utilization on the various aircraft, with U.S. cargo on French jets, Australian passengers on U.S. Marine KC-130s and Airmen on JASDF aircraft.” 

No easy feat, each country has their own procedures for passengers, cargo and flights that could slow down a multinational effort during a real operation. Cope North’s goal is to overcome that. 
“We just made it work. Each nation came to the table, able and willing, to make this happen and that’s exactly what we did,” Popovich said. “I think we became a more integrated, lethal force by working together.” 
This exercise showed what is possible when the allies and partners in this region come together for a common goal. 
“The accomplishments of Cope North are massive, dispersing over 1,000 servicemembers across six locations with their aircraft, equipment and survival supplies for two weeks and then bringing them all home to Andersen is huge,” Popovich said. 
Servicemembers practiced Agile Combat Employment by rapidly ‘flushing’ to Andersen Air Force Base, after a simulated attack, from remote and isolated airfields on Tinian, Saipan and Guam, where they were operating as a combined force projecting airpower across the Pacific. 
“Those relationships, alliances and partnerships can only be envied in Beijing, Moscow and Pyongyang and they could never replicate anything near that,” Gen. Kevin B. Schneider, PACAF commander, said at the AFA symposium. “Our ability to come together as teams, and work together as teams for a purpose, is an amazing strength and one that we continue to enjoy. That’s why my predecessors and I pay tremendous focus into maintaining the building and increasing the capability of our alliances and relationships at all levels.”