Leadership roundtable demonstrates solidified partnership
Gen. Herbert Carlisle responds to a question during a media roundtable for Cope North 13 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam Feb. 4. Carlisle is the Pacific Air Forces commander and was joined by Lt. Gen. Masayuki Hironaka, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force Air Support Command commander, and Air Commodore Anthony Grady, the Royal Australian Air Force Air Combat Group commander, in discussing the relationship between the three partner militaries. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)
by Capt. Chris Hoyler
Cope North 2013 Public Affairs
2/7/2013 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFNS) -- While nearly 2,000 Airmen from three countries began two weeks of intense training at exercise Cope North 2013 Feb. 4, leaders from the U.S. Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force discussed the invaluable impact the exercise has on the readiness of their forces.
Gen. Herbert Carlisle, the Pacific Air Forces commander, was joined by Lt. Gen. Masayuki Hironaka, the JASDF Air Support Command commander, and Air Commodore Anthony Grady, the RAAF Air Combat Group commander, in addressing their respective objectives for the exercise and how it increases the combat readiness and interoperability of their forces.
"Cope North has evolved and it has matured to become a better training and interoperability exercise for our nations," Carlisle said.
The humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training, conducted through Feb. 7 at four air fields on Guam and the Mariana Islands of Tinian and Saipan, has proved particularly vital following the international support for Japan during Operation Tomodachi in March 2011.
"The humanitarian airlift/disaster relief component is particularly important, since it is a real-world requirement that is clearly going to provide disproportionate value when our nations most need it," Grady said.
This year, South Korean Airmen are observing the humanitarian airlift/disaster relief training for the first time, opening the possibility for participation and an increased presence at future Cope North exercises.
"The statement about the Pacific is not if a natural disaster will happen, but when, given the environment," Carlisle said. "So we see the humanitarian airlift/disaster relief portion of the exercise increasing. There is a potential to invite the Republic of Korea as more than observers, and there is certainly the opportunity to invite other nations that may be interested."
With Cope North in its third year of tri-lateral involvement, the concept of shared objectives for the training has become central to ensuring success during the exercise and in establishing improved readiness in the event of a real-world tri-lateral military response.
"We have three objectives," Hironaka said. "One is to develop our tactical capabilities. Second is to enhance our interoperability among each country. And third is to bolster the military understanding between the countries."
The large force employment portion of Cope North, which has been part of the exercise since its inception in 1978, is critical in developing a multilateral common operational picture using U.S., Japanese, and Australian airborne and land-based command and control assets.
Each day of the exercise sees morning and afternoon rounds of aerial operations involving fighter, refueling and command and control aircraft from all three nations. This provides an optimal training environment to develop multilateral cooperation and combined procedures for air power missions, which include air superiority, interdiction, electronic warfare, tactical airlift and aerial refueling.
"All nations are developing their capabilities," Carlisle said. "Some of them are done in cooperation, like the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35, and some of them are individual programs, like the Wedgetail for the Australians. We continue to work interoperability, and that's one of the things that Cope North is great at. We get a chance to exercise that interoperability and find out where those glitches are and where things aren't talking to each other when we think they should be.
"We see where those seams are and where those interoperability questions are, and we can get better at making those systems talk to each other. It's not prohibitive, it doesn't stop us from anything, it just forces us to figure out how to make it work," Carlisle said.