ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam –
The 5-day humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) portion of exercise COPE NORTH 18, which allowed U.S. Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force and the Koku Jieitai (Japan Air Self-Defense Force) to practice HA/DR relief efforts, concluded Feb. 23, 2018.
This year marks the 89th iteration of exercise COPE NORTH, which includes the long-standing multinational HA/DR event designed to increase interoperability and develop a synergistic disaster response capability between the allied nations.
“COPE NORTH 18 has over 3,000 personnel participating with over 100 aircraft focused on interoperability and partnership,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Ryan Sweeny, 36th Operations Group commander. “But the specific focus for this year has been HA/DR.”
Last year was a world record breaking year for natural disaster devastation. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. alone had an estimated $306.2 billion in damage and countless lives lost from hurricanes, floods, wildfires, tornados and other natural disasters.
“The skills we practice and learn are applicable to almost any disaster you can think of,” said Sweeny. “It allows us to go into an airfield or an area and provide airlift support and medical support along with establishing security and command and control that is necessary for any disaster relief operation.”
Throughout the week USAF, Koku Jieitai and RAAF personnel combined efforts to perform medical evacuations, airfield security, command and control, search and rescue, and cargo and personnel airlifts to react to a fictional yet realistic earthquake disaster scenario.
“This was our eighth COPE NORTH, and we look forward to coming back every year,” said Ben Sleeman, Royal Australian Air Force Cope North exercise director. “We always receive excellent training with our partners in this region.”
COPE NORTH began in 1978 as a quarterly bilateral exercise held at Misawa Air Base, Japan, and moved here in 1999. Today, the annual exercise serves as an opportunity to promote stability and security throughout the Indo-Pacific by enabling regional forces to hone vital readiness skills and increase interoperability.