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NEWS | April 22, 2024

South Korea’s largest air exercise proves ‘Accept Follow-on Forces’ mission

By Staff Sgt. Nicholas Ross, 8th Fighter Wing

A crucial aspect of any exercise for the 8th Fighter Wing is the reception of forces, and that was no different as the Wolf Pack hosts the largest air exercise in the Republic of Korea.

The 8th Logistics Readiness Squadron deployment readiness cell played a vital role in accepting an additional 24 airframes and hundreds of personnel for Korea Flying Training 2024.

“It was four and a half months of planning meetings involving 7th Air Force, Republic of Korea Air Force’s Air Operation Center, and all the participants for the exercise, in addition to weekly coordination with the units around base to pull this off,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jeremy Fagan, 8th LRS installation deployment officer. “Organizing all those details over the past couple of months has been the job of the [Installation Deployment Readiness Center.]”

KFT 24 is the annual combined ROK-U.S. large force exercise designed to improve integration of combined and joint airpower. For this year’s iteration, Kunsan AB welcomed aircraft and personnel from 20 different units across the U.S. Department of Defense and the Republic of Korea Air Force.

Over the past month, the “port dawgs” [air transportation personnel] were responsible for downloading cargo from 10 aircraft, and the whole of LRS worked to ensure that the people and cargo got to where they needed to be for mission execution.

“KFT took extensive planning, but accepting ‘follow-on forces’ can be a very quick process,” said Fagan. “We could get notified a day before that people, assets and/or cargo are coming, and as long as our port dawgs are here, we can go out and make it happen.”

As KFT progresses, the 8th Operational Support Squadron has been crucial in maintaining safe and efficient flying operations.

“The ops temp has tripled from usual,” said Tech. Sgt. Kathy Sells, 8th Operational Support Squadron non-commissioned officer in-charge of airfield management operations. “Our Airmen have increased flight planning and airfield safety checks daily to go along with the increased daily sorties.”

Coordinating where jets will park and ensuring the airfield environment can support aircraft movements at a moment’s notice, the Airfield Management team has been essential to making sure all the aircraft that traveled to KFT 24 can effectively train.

“Deconflicting with all the airframes has been a huge planning process,” said Sells. “Within our career field we have to be flexible, and we have different courses of action for these situations ; knowledge that's proven pertinent during KFT.”

Kunsan’s ability to accept follow-on forces is a huge advantage to ROK and U.S. forces participating in the training and in the grander mission to defend the prosperity of the Peninsula. Training like KFT that test that function and the interoperability of dissimilar aircraft from the ROK-US Alliance ensures the combined force is battle-ready for any potential situation.