Cope North 2013 Kicks off on Guam

By Master Sgt. Joshua Gray

From Cope North 2013 Combined Information Bureau

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam - If there's anything members of today's military can count on, it is that they never know what is going to happen, and when it does, the people they'll be working with probably won't be wearing the same uniform as them. With that in mind, more than 1,700 Airmen from the U.S. Air Force, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force kicked off Exercise Cope North 13 here February 4th.

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ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (Feb. 4, 2013) - U.S Air Force and Navy aircraft are parked on the base flight line during Cope North 13. Cope North is a multilateral Pacific Air Forces-sponsored Field Training Exercise (FTX) conducted annually at Andersen Air Force Base. The exercise focuses on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training, air combat tactics and large force employment in an effort to enhance interoperability among U.S., Japan and Australian forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Montes)

Cope North is a multilateral field training exercise, hosted by Pacific Air Forces, aiming to improve the ability of all three nations to work together in any environment possible.

"President Obama has asked us to rebalance our forces to the Pacific region of operations, so we can ensure we are geographically distributed as well as politically sustainable and operationally resilient," said Col. Peter Milohnic, U.S. Exercise Director and Commander of the 18th Operations Group at Kadena Air Base, Japan. "Cope North gives us an excellent chance to practice our strategy of collaboration at a very personal level with our Pacific allies, so that when something happens and we all need to work together, it isn't the first time we're working together."

Large force employment operations involving fighter, refueling, bomber and tanker operations will run throughout the two weeks the exercise is scheduled for, but the focus of the first week of the exercise will be humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations on Guam and the nearby island of Tinian.

"We've been involved in a lot of disaster relief operations in the Pacific in the last decade. From the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in 2004 to Operation Tomodachi in Japan in 2010, we've had a lot of experience in humanitarian operations," said Colonel Milhonic. "The RAAF also does a lot of disaster relief both in Australia and the surrounding islands, so there is a lot of value added to getting together and sharing all we've learned."

The second week will consistent primarily of air combat operations consisting of the three nations flying 15 different airframes together against F-16Cs from the 18th Aggressor Squadron based at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.

While training for these scenarios is certainly nothing new for the nations taking part, there are some elements of the exercise that will make their Cope North debut.

"There are several firsts during Cope North 2013 to include this being the first time JASDF and RAAF will bring air refueling capable aircraft to Cope North. The JASDF will participate in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations and Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) representatives will observe the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations." Milohnic added.

The exercise, now in its 84th iteration, has been held exclusively on Guam since 1999.

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— USPACOM (posted February 05, 2013) —