WAHIAWA, Hawaii -- About 150 special operations forces members from seven countries flooded the skies during airborne operations in Wahiawa, July 17 and 19.
Special Operations Command Pacific (SOCPAC) conducted airborne operations with multinational Special Operations Forces (SOF) in support of the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.
In the spirit of RIMPAC, U.S. Army Special Forces from the 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (SFG) partnered with SOF units from the Republic of Korea (ROK), India, Indonesia, Peru, Philippines, Japan, and SOCPAC for two days of conducting and refining static-line and military free fall parachuting techniques. While the jumps help all units involved maintain proficiency in their training requirements, there is a deeper theme to these events.
"It's about building partnerships," said U.S. Army Capt. Matthew Song, assigned to the 1st SFG out of Okinawa, Japan. "In SOF, that person-to-person relationship plays out big in the end."
Song, the lead facilitator for SOF units during the airborne operations, understands the importance of bridging together different units from around the globe. This was the first time conducting an exercise of this scale and complexity, Song said, citing the many moving parts and countries involved.
"I've been in the military a long time and never had the chance to work with these nations," said Indian Navy Lt. Cmdr. "VB", assigned to the Indian Navy's Marine Commando Force. "RIMPAC is incredible as it brings us all together."
Aside from building rapport across nations, these events allow participants to learn from one another.
"These evolutions enable subject matter expert exchanges, key leader engagements, and familiarity between all countries involved," said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Juan C. Lopez, the primary jumpmaster for the exercise. Improving interoperability and fostering professional relationships are also important outcomes, he said.
"Interoperability in training together is extremely important as we learn new things," said ROK Navy Lt. "K", assigned to ROK's Naval Special Warfare Flotilla. "You never know when you'll need it in the future."
"All countries involved performed exceptionally," Lopez said. "From the combined jump master teams, to the paratroopers, and the support personnel, everyone worked as a cohesive unit to execute a complex operation that exceeded expectations."
Twenty-five nations, 46 ships, five submarines, and about 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 27 to Aug. 2 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships among participants critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security of the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series that began in 1971.