YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan –
Yokota Airmen have returned from Pacific Airlift Rally 23, a multinational, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief exercise involving the U.S., Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, and Malaysia Air Forces at Clark Air Base, Philippines, Aug. 14-18.
PAR23 tested the interoperability between the U.S. military, Allies and partners, and civilian agencies responsible for supporting airlift operations in the event of a crisis.
Two C-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, played a key part in creating a realistic operating environment and disaster response.
“The Yokota team is composed of pilots, loadmasters, logisticians, maintainers, medics, and many other career fields all working together in various parts of the exercise,” said Capt. Timothy Kim, 36th AS flight commander and PAR23 mission commander.
“Any opportunity we get to fly with other countries is a privilege for us and very valuable training,” said Kim. “In PAR23, we were able to inter-fly with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Indonesia Air Force as well as the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the Philippine Air Force. From this, we can learn from each other and get better at executing our mission together.”
During PAR23, Yokota members conducted field training exercises focusing on container delivery, personnel airdrop, cargo loading, low-cost, low-altitude airdrop rigging, and critical patient movement in tandem with participating nations.
“On the flying side, PAR23 gave us an opportunity to train together and increase our proficiency,” said Kim. "If a disaster struck and we needed to respond with humanitarian assistance, it would truly be a team effort and PAR23 was a platform to practice such an effort.”
The Yokota team knows well that disaster does indeed strike at a moment’s notice and remains committed to diligent preparation, should U.S. Allies or partners call for support. In 2011, Yokota conducted real-world HA/DR operations during Operation Tomodachi, following the infamous Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as well as in 2013 for Operation Damayan.
Operation Damayan was a response to Typhoon Haiyan (called Typhoon Yolanda by the people of the Philippines) which caused catastrophic destruction in the central Philippines. Five C-130H from Yokota quickly deployed to the Philippines in support of the operation. The U.S. relief effort delivered vast quantities of emergency supplies and evacuated more than 21,000 survivors.
Interoperability training, education, and exchange programs between international partners like PAR23 provide mutual advantages and promote cohesiveness between military leaders and servicemembers, creating a stable environment for peace-keeping efforts.
“I am humbled by how hard Team Yokota worked and how hard each of the flying participant countries worked to contribute to this exercise,” said Kim. “There were plenty of lessons-learned, specifically related to how we can fly together, and our subject matter experts exchanged valuable lessons about maintenance, aeromedical evacuation, cultural nuances, and security.”