KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Editor's note: Due to operations security, Airmen are not fully identified in this story.
The dark airfield erupts with activity as an MC-130J Commando II rapidly lands and comes to a halt just after midnight.
Exercise Gryphon Pacific 20-1 is in full swing.
With the MC-130J’s engines still running, Airmen hastily disembark from the rear of the aircraft. The first personnel out are fully-armed Deployed Aircraft Ground Response Element members charged with providing security for the aircraft and its crew.
“When we have an aircraft on the airfield, for ten minutes or up to seven hours, we’re there to make sure nothing bad happens,” said the DAGRE team leader. “During this exercise specifically, we also provided security for the Forward Area Refueling Point team, as well as the other aircraft coming in for refueling. The airfield is so isolated that a response element from allies could take too long to arrive therefore, we want to make sure we have the ability to land, establish security, and then get out as quickly as needed.”
These highly-trained DAGRE members are experts in ensuring proper force protection measures are met when aircraft are operating out of austere locations.
“We want to make sure we have our team protecting the people and equipment,” the DAGRE team leader explained. “Along with FARP security, we also provide the tactical security detail as there is a possibility that there isn’t an already set security asset here. For this exercise, we landed at Wake Island, but could just be a dirt field in theory.”
The overall mission was to provide security for the aircraft, aircrew and FARP detail while they worked on the Wake Island airfield.
“Specifically, for the Gryphon Pacific mission, we are responsible for protecting the aircraft, personnel and any equipment,” he stated. “That’s one less thing the mission commander has to worry about.”
Another big part of the exercise was a Tactical Combat Casualty Care scenario.
“During the casualty care part, I provided initial care for a teammate,” said the DAGRE team medic. “I took the member to our medical personnel onboard the aircraft so he could receive the proper treatment required for the scenario. We had a limited amount of time after rapidly establishing the airfield, so it was good to have the aircraft so close for the casualty portion. This exercise was all around fantastic and I’m glad to be a part of it.”