by Senior Airman Peter Thompson
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
4/21/2015 - POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, N.C. -- Members
of the 317th Airlift Group from Dyess Air Force Base, flew to Pope Army
Airfield, Fort Bragg, N.C., April 7, to participate in Combined Joint
Operational Access Exercise 15-01.
The exercise takes place multiple times each year to certify the Air
Force and Army's ability to deploy strategic airlift, contingency and
support forces in a large formation airdrop.
"The goal is to successfully exercise our ability to conduct a Joint
Forced Entry Operation against an adversary. Doing this requires us to
get scores of organizations working as a team and gathered at Pope Army
Airfield," said Col. Jeffrey Brown, 317th Airlift Group commander. "It
all comes together in a short amount of time, and all the organizations
have to work well together. The fact that so many organizations and
units can descend onto Pope AAF and execute such a complex mission is an
awesome testament to the way we trained and organized and equipped."
During CJOAX 15-01, the 317th AG and other Air Force mobility assets to
include C-130s and C-17s, worked with parajumpers from the 82nd Airborne
Division. Additionally, the 47th Squadron, British Royal Air Force and
British Army 16th Air Assault Brigade, worked side-by-side with American
forces to integrate multinational interoperability into the exercise.
"Multinational interoperability involves British Army, U.S. Army,
British Royal Air Force and U.S. Air Force. It's bringing all those
different tactics and regulations together to achieve the same
objective," said Capt. Andrew Karrer, 317th AG mission planning cell
chief. "It really requires a lot of work, experience and great
communication between all those pieces to understand what the
capabilities are, what the objective is, and to bring all those forces
together in a unified response."
The first days of the exercise were dedicated to the units working
together in small-scale formations to address their differences and find
solutions to common issues. Those days of training, coupled with
planning, led to the highlight of the event, a 23-ship tactical airlift
formation, which dropped 2,100 paratroopers and hundreds of tons of
equipment onto a drop zone at Fort Bragg in a simulated joint forcible
"You can't do it for real, unless you practice it for real; train like
you fight," Brown said. "It needs to be practiced. It's a national
capability that we have, to take the 82nd Airborne Division and seize an
airfield or provide humanitarian support. We can come in and provide a
presence that is there to help people, or we can punch our way in as the
pointy end of the spear.
"I'm very proud of the 317th AG and how we executed during JOAX.
Together with all of our higher-headquarters' tasked missions, the 317th
launched every tail we had this past week, including eight that
participated in JOAX. Our maintainers also supported five other USAF
C-130Js and two RAF C-130Js. On "hit night" maintenance went 14 for 14,
which is an amazing testament to the flying, planning, execution and
maintenance for the exercise."
Before returning to Dyess, the formation of aircraft also flew to
Alexandria, Louisiana, to pick up Soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat
Team, 82nd Airborne Division, to airdrop them as part of a Global
Response Force Exercise. A GRE, like CJOAX, is organized to demonstrate a
short-notice, mass-deployment for combat or humanitarian support.
The impact of CJOAX and the GRE stretched deeper than the coordination
and execution of airdropping personnel. The week-long exercise bred
opportunities for maintainers and aircrews to assimilate with other
aircraft platforms. Many of the opportunities afforded to participants
from the 317th AG wouldn't be available to them at home station.
Maintainers from the 317th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron worked
hand-in-hand with the 43rd AMXS, a transient maintenance unit which
supports a multitude of aircraft platforms. Loadmasters from the 317th
AG spent time with vehicle operators from the 82nd ABD to practice
loading vehicles and machinery for airland operations.
"These opportunities are important to us because they keep us prepared
for whatever may come our way," said Staff Sgt. Craig Morrison, 40th
Airlift Squadron loadmaster. "It's been great building a partnership
with the 82nd Airborne Division and the British Royal Air Force because
we are able to learn how each other operates and fine-tune our
processes. If we do deploy with these units, we can work more
efficiently as a team."
Exercises such as CJOAX and the GRE require multiple facets of Air Force
and Army capabilities uniting and working together to achieve a common
goal. Airmen, Soldiers, operators, maintainers and civilians alike work
toward the goal of rapidly introducing forces into hostile environments
to conduct contingency operations.
By interacting and working closely with joint partners in the exercise,
participants are able to develop refinements to process and procedures
that can potentially enhance the effectiveness of real-world operations.
"We all have the same goal, which is protecting our nation," Brown said.
"It was a joy to working with our British allies and the 82d ABN during
JOAX and learning together with them."