Cooperative Cope Thunder a massive multilateral air exercise Published July 20, 2006 By Capt. Teresa Sullivan Cooperative Cope Thunder Public Affairs EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AFPN) -- More than 800 U.S. forces and allies arrived here this week for Cooperative Cope Thunder 06-03, the Air Force's largest multilateral air combat exercise in the Pacific. Filling the role of lead wing is the 35th Fighter Wing from Misawa Air Base, Japan, with Col. Nelson Cabot commanding the 35th Air Expeditionary Wing. Over the last several days, each unit has arrived, bedded down and started preparations to operate in a joint environment. "The deployment phase has gone as smoothly as any large force exercise could go," Colonel Cabot said. "We're all here now and ready for the exercise to begin." The colonel's expectation for his wing is to integrate U.S. and allied forces and learn to work together in an operational environment. "The intent for us is to be able to fly in a joint and combined manner and to understand each of our capabilities in case we ever need to put these skills to the test ‘real world.'"Before the flying begins, all support functions must be fully operational. Support Airmen worked behind the scenes to deploy personnel, prepare equipment and establish lodging and meals, according to 35th AEW support group commander, Maj. Donald Mench. "I'm proud of our support troops," Major Mench said. "They got us here and established with a place to sleep, meals, computers and equipment, so now we can all focus on our jobs and get the mission accomplished." Maintainers are preparing a variety of aircraft to take on the vast 68,000 square miles of range space offered by the Pacific Alaska Range Complex. "Our goal is to have safe and efficient exercise, keep our lines of communication open and to learn and interact with other participating forces" said Lt. Col. Stuart Lum, 35th AEW maintenance group commander. "Now that we're established as an AEW we're eager to see the fruit of our labor as we begin launching jets. We expect to learn a lot from each other and each participating country." Nations and forces participating with the United States in this year's exercise include: Canada, Japan, Sweden, Mongolia, NATO, South Korea, Bangladesh, Germany, the Slovak Republic and Australia.