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April, 23

Reservists Rally in the Pacific to Ensure They Are Ready Now

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The 22nd Air Force conducted a two-week long Agile Combat employment exercise, Rally in the Pacific 2023, with more than 23 Total Force units and nearly 400 Multi-Capable Airmen who worked tirelessly to execute and enable joint maneuver in the region, Sept. 9-23, 2023.


The exercise was held in the Indo-Pacific region, primarily Guam, Palau and the Philippines, with the main operating location out of Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii.


During the exercise, Airmen enhanced interoperability with allies and partner nations, showcased the ability to project the Reserve Mobility Air Force into the region, rapidly generated airpower across dispersed locations simultaneously, and maintained a high-operations tempo.


“This is the fourth in the series of Rally exercises, which have built progressively upon each other,” said Col. Gregory Berry, 934th Airlift Wing deputy commander and RITP23 mission commander. “The intent of this year’s Rally in the Pacific exercise was to deploy a large group of Reservists out to the Pacific, train throughout the region, show our adversary that as a Reserve entity we could operate in their backyard, and then task and exercise the agile support elements.”


To do that, everything started with the planning.


The team collaborated with leaders across the enterprise to outline exercise objectives to test and grow capabilities for ACE and the Air Force Force Generation, or AFFORGEN, model. Logistics planners were critical in establishing the tools and coordination to identify and align the functions, assets, and resources required to execute RITP23’s objectives.


Once firm expectations for the exercise were determined; from the intent to the training, the team had to develop the Deployments Requirements Manning Document, or the list of jobs that were required to make the exercise a success. From there, the team consolidated the list, sent it out across the Air Force Reserve requesting personnel to fill each job.


This was a new experience for Tech. Sgt. Ethan Smith, 403rd Logistics Readiness Squadron logistics management specialist, who took part in planning the exercise. Of the planning efforts, Smith said, “I got called and was asked if I wanted to help be a part a Pacific Air Force focused Rally exercise back in January (2023) and I agreed, so next thing I knew I was on the core planning team as the logistics planner.”


The logistics planners’ job is to manage the deployment, redeployment, and sustainment process.


For this exercise, the logistics planners had to get more than 400 Air Force Reserve members and more than 185 short tons of cargo from multiple stateside bases to the downrange location in Hawaii. This required assistance from local Installation Deployment Readiness Centers, building relationships and network within the local community for use of airfields, transportation, and bed down services.


Part of this deployment process is to establish the list of personnel needed to make the exercise a success.


“We used the force element building blocks for ‘Establish the Airbase’ as well as ‘Mission Generation Force Element for C-130s’ as a general guideline for what our total manning requirements needed to be,” said Smith. “Utilizing these Force Elements, we were able to determine who would be the first personnel on ground, starting from day one, to start the base build up and … continue from there for follow-on [forces].”


The overall plan of the exercise focused on executing the ACE concept and training Multi-Capable Airmen to succeed in contested, degraded or even operationally-limited environments.


As with any exercise, however, adjustments were made based on training and other requirements. One such requirement was a change to the main operating location, when Typhoon Mawar struck Guam, which caused a major adjustment to the plan.


Thoroughness of planning allowed the RITP23 team to quickly change from utilizing the Northwest Field in Guam as a forward operating base, and moving the main operating base to Pohakuloa Training Area in Hawaii, instead.


“Our initial intent was to bed down at the Northwest Field in Guam, but Typhoon Mawar caused so much damage that we had to move quickly to find another location,” said Berry. “We basically replanned the entire exercise two and a half months prior to deployment using the Pohakuloa Training Area after confirming availability, surveying it and working the logistics.”


By using PTA, the exercise personnel faced logistical challenges operating from Hawaii, Palau, the Philippines, and Guam. These challenges amplified the team’s already stressed logistics and maintenance capabilities, but allowed the Multi-Capable Airmen to showcase their ingenuity and adaptability to changes.


Berry said, “It was challenging in that regard, but challenge isn’t a bad thing.”


The camp was built in the mid-1950s and some of the buildings haven’t been updated since then.


By going to PTA there were more Multi-Capable Airmen training opportunities; which included the rifle and pistol pop-up ranges; water survival and land navigation training, and the 9-line and hoist training provided by the U.S. Army Charlie Company 3rd Battalion 25th Aviation Regiment aircrew using a HH60-M Black Hawk medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) helicopter. These training opportunities provided are normally only available for security forces, fire fighters and medical personnel, or the survival, evasion, resistance, and escape professionals and aircrew. Many of these opportunities would not have been available in Guam.


“We told them they were going to experience some good training, but it wasn’t going to be comfortable, and everyone embraced it,” said Berry. “The staff was amazing at flexing the plan to the change, to be able to handle the logistical strain of being spread out so far and it worked out as well, if not better for training than the original plan.”


Another challenge fell directly onto the aircraft maintenance section.


This was due to both logistics for aircraft parts and aircraft maintenance issues because of the locations being spread so far apart. By creating a maintenance depot at the main operating location, however, RITP23 planners optimized maintenance resources – equipment, parts, and people – and were able to prioritize allocation to the various missions.


“I am so proud of all of the maintainers who worked through this exercise,” said Chief Master Sgt. Ronald Clark, 927th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron superintendent. “They worked 12-hour days and still had smiles on their face when they finished.”


Other experiences included setting up communications, security, flying operations, medical transport training, and even command operations in the four locations.


“This exercise stressed the importance of how agile combat employment shifts the generation of airpower from large, centralized bases to networks of smaller, dispersed locations, or cluster bases to increase survivability,” said Berry.


Since this was not a traditional exercise with broad objectives, the objectives were driven by 22nd Air Force’s goals to accelerate readiness in case of a conflict in the Indo-Pacific region and supporting USINDOPACOM priorities. The area of responsibility itself provided unique challenges that enhanced 22nd Air Force’s and 4th Air Force’s capabilities to execute ACE and rapidly generate airpower in support of Department of Defense, allied, and partner nation priorities. Teams were put together to operate in multiple locations with varying levels of capacity and support, and then challenged participants’ skills by providing real-world experience with units they do not regularly train with, while testing emerging operational concepts.


“We put our Airmen in a stressful situation with this exercise, and the attitudes of the Airmen, top to bottom, were nothing short of amazing,” said Berry. “The days were long and not easy, the staff kept getting up off the mat when something would go wrong. They continually adapted and found new solutions to the problem at hand. The team fought for three straight weeks, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”



Originally published at http://www.afrc.af.mil/News/Features/Display/Article/3549582/reservists-rally-in-the-pacific-to-ensure-they-are-ready-now/

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