NEWS | Oct. 7, 2021

Joint Forces Execute Exercise PACIFIC WEASEL

By Airman 1st Class Antwain Hanks 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Members of Team Misawa executed a simulated defensive counter-air mission in support of a PACIFIC WEASEL (PAC WEASEL) exercise over the western coast of Japan, Oct. 1, 2021.

Exercise PAC WEASEL is a reoccurring exercise allowing joint and bilateral partners to work together to find innovative solutions to any given task. This exercise series enhances the defense capabilities of U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) and Japanese allies, and it supports the U.S. commitment to defending a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

“PAC WEASEL exercises give pilots an opportunity to learn from one another in a joint and bilateral environment, as they are put through various challenging scenarios requiring them to be innovative and work together,” said Capt. Robert Grochalski, 35th Fighter Wing PAC WEASEL mission commander.

This iteration of PAC WEASEL simulated a defensive counter-air mission that tested pilots' abilities to defend a maritime vessel, maintaining its safety and preventing enemy aircraft from reaching a certain distance from the ship.

The exercise led by Grochalski included over 30 various aircraft from the U.S. Navy and Air Force such as F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-15 Strike Eagles, E-3 Sentries, KC-135 Stratotankers and P-8 Poseidons.

“One of the refined tactics learned was how to execute F-16 Fighting Falcons and F-15 Strike Eagles Defensive Counter-Air integration and how to incorporate different airframe tactics into one cohesive defensive force,” said Grochalski. “It is humbling to know that multiple aircrews entrusted me to be able to lead, plan and execute this mission.”

Under Grochalski’s leadership, the units involved were empowered to overcome challenging scenarios sharing innovative techniques and tactics in a joint and bilateral environment to support the U.S. Air Force directive to "Accelerate Change or Lose”.

“Grochalski displayed great composure and solid Airmanship when it came to being mission commander during exercise PAC WEASEL,” said Maj. Luis Monsalve, 35th Fighter Wing exercise PAC WEASEL instructor pilot of record. “Mission commanders are tasked with planning and integrating different mission design series and capabilities in a large scale fight to ensure the achievement of the base commander’s intent.”

The joint effort directly enhanced USFJ’s ability to detect, deter and potentially defend Japan from adversaries, while empowering service members to be innovative and diversify their approach to any given obstacle.