PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- You will find plenty of great images of ordnance flying down range at exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 22. Whether it was one of the two sinking exercises, or the many other simulated engagements throughout the exercise, they all had one thing in common: there were controllers helping to plan and then guide aircraft into their airspace, and on to the target. For the over-land missions, RIMPAC’s Tactical Command and Control (TAC C2) team plan and execute those missions.
“We each do business our own way, but fundamentally what we do and what we set out to achieve is all the same” said Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Ben Gervason, one of the RAAF 41 Wing’s Senior Directors, and the lead for Australia’s contribution to the multinational TAC C2 here at RIMPAC.
Joining him around the table are a collection of Canadian and Australian controllers, also members of the RIMPAC TAC C2 team. Today’s task: putting together the enabling command and control for a strike mission with the F/A-18 Hornets of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 232.
“We spent the first part of the exercise identifying the intricacies between our procedures before coming together to develop a common and consolidated approach to operations.” says Gervason. “It’s about interoperability, so we can all seamlessly move between the different positions, or lead the team as required.”
This is not the first time that Canadian and Australian controllers have collaborated with American fighter crews. Both countries contribute regularly to international missions in cooperation with their American allies.
“We’re building on the experience gained on other operations,” added Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Captain (Capt) Zach Taylor, an aerospace controller from Canada’s 22 Wing, located in North Bay, Ontario. Taylor is the lone Canadian on this task today. The remainder of the Canadian team is already out executing another mission.
Taylor has experience on deployments within the North American Aerospace Command (NORAD) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
“The sheer size and scope of the aircraft, capabilities and mission types at RIMPAC provide us with unique opportunities to put those planning skills into practice for missions we may not regularly see,” he said.
Joining the more experienced officers were a number of junior RAAF officers, many of them on their first deployments outside of Australia.
Flying Officer (FLGOFF) Cameron Stuart noted that this is his first opportunity to work with other nations, seeing how everything comes together in real time has been an excellent learning experience.
But large, multinational exercises are not without their challenges.
“The size and scope of RIMPAC is remarkable, but there are unique challenges to overcome, like differences with language and TTPs,” RAAF FLGOFF Nicholas Martin said. “These small nuances can make a big difference in the air, but we overcome those challenges by networking, talking it out, and draw on the experiences from our teammates.”
These officers, new and experienced alike, have shared a valuable experience to take home to their respective countries, ready to be put into practice.
Twenty-six nations, 38 ships, three submarines, more than 170 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 29 to Aug. 4 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 on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2022 is the 28th exercise in the series that began in 1971.