by Staff Sgt. Tim Chacon
62nd Airlift Wing
8/14/2015 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- The
C-17 Globemaster III aircraft is capable of delivering tailored force
to anywhere in the world in less than 96 hours and that is just what
they showcased Aug. 6.
C-17s from Joint Base Lewis-McChord staged out of March Air Reserve
Base, California, participated in a Joint Operation Access Exercise
(JOAX) at the National Training Center on Fort Irwin.
The Air Force's goal was to validate their doctrine of a global response
force. Working with the Army they set an example of the type of
mobilization they are capable of.
"We air dropped Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division on an airfield,
which they then seized," said Capt. Sean McConville, JOAX C-17 lead
planner, "Then we built up that [force] with and air land follow on of
The three 62nd Airlift Wing C-17s were part of a total of six C-17s
coming from both Joint Base Charleston, North Carolina Joint Base and
Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
The other air assets included 11 C-130s from Dyess Air Force Base,
Texas, Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina and Little Rock, Air Force
McConville said the C-17's and C130's delivered more than 616 Soldiers
and 850,000 pounds of equipment through air-drop and air-land
The Soldiers and equipment were loaded on to the aircraft at March and
flown to the NTC in two separate cycles. Those capable of being air
dropped were parachuted out of the aircraft and others were off loaded
on the ground, after landing in the southern California dessert.
Both iterations of movements were conducted in darkness and the landings
were done on un-paved dirt runways, but that wasn't all of the
obstacles to overcome.
"In addition to the Semi Prepared Runway Operations and night vision
goggles we had significant terrain to deal with," said McConville. "This
was one place where the junior planners we brought along really
showcased their talent."
According to McConville one of the most time consuming problems to deal with is working the C-17s with the C-130s.
"About half our time was finding a way to bring in C-17's at very high
speeds into a formation over an objective with the slower moving
C-130's," said McConville.
The pilots got the aircraft to the drop and landing zones, but it is the
loadmasters who are responsible for the unloading and dropping of the
personnel and equipment, as well as helping to make adjustments on to
"Sometimes communication can be difficult," said Staff Sgt. Scott
Delano, 8th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. "The Army has their objectives
and sometimes we don't get them till the last minute, but we just have
to be flexible to get the mission done."
Despite the lack of a built-up runway, the night time operations,
treacherous terrain and continual changes to the plan, the Air Force was
able to deliver all the Soldiers and equipment in less than nine hours
from the time of the first plan took off.
"Seeing a big plan like this come together after hours and hours is my
favorite part," said Delano. "And we did it in less time than we were
The participants in the exercise all seemed to learn from the experience and handle the challenges that were put upon them.
"This kind of training, where you have open ended situations and there
is no necessarily right or wrong answers is a great way to teach
critical thinking," said McConville. "I hope that some of the people who
are training with us will get to a point where they can bring the kind
of thinking they learned in these exercises to the strategic and