ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Fall brought a busy season for Air Force Reserve Command’s tactical airlift wings as C-130 crews from a host of Reserve organizations sharpened their skills at exercises across the globe.
In October, Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 403rd Wing’s 815th Airlift Squadron, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, and the 913th Airlift Group’s 327th Airlift Squadron, Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, provided airlift and airdrop support for Arctic Anvil, a U.S. Army joint forces exercise at the Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center in Mississippi.
“The 815th, along with the 327th Airlift Squadron, had the pleasure of supporting the (4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division) for Arctic Anvil by providing personnel and equipment airdrop as well as short-field air land operations,” said Lt. Col. Mark Suckow, 815th AS pilot.
“We had the opportunity to provide three aircrews and two C-130Js to help execute the mass airlift and airdrop,” said Col. Dan Collister, 913th Airlift Group deputy commander. “Our primary mission at the 913th is to provide combat-ready Airmen, tactical airlift and agile combat support. Participating in a joint exercise such as this is a great way for our Reserve Citizen Airmen to hone their skills and get experience working hand-in-hand with partner units and sister services.”
More than 3,000 Soldiers based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, participated in the joint-forces exercise.
“I am proud of our crews for this exercise,” Suckow said. “They executed the mission as planned and helped us meet our objectives. Time over target for airdrop and air land operations were executed flawlessly. The air land portion into the landing zone was completed in less than minimal time from landing to takeoff. Having the opportunity to work with thousands of soldiers in a large-scale exercise like this is very beneficial training for us. It prepares us for real-world operations.”
Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 94th Airlift Wing, Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, spanned the globe this fall to support a pair of joint exercises – one in Jordan and the other in Portugal.
The 94th AW served as the primary provider of air support for Eager Lion 2019, a multi-nation exercise hosted by Jordan in late August and early September. About 7,500 military members from the United States, Jordan and 23 other nations participated in the exercise.
“This has been one of the best exercises I’ve been on,” said Capt. Anthony Toste, a C-130H3 pilot from the 94th’s 700th Airlift Squadron. “We’ve had the opportunity to do so many types of missions since we’ve been here – anything from the rapid air land to meeting with the different users from different countries to work with them to airdrops and low-levels. We’ve done pretty much everything a C-130 has to do.”
The rapid air land consisted of the C-130H3 loading up British and Jordanian military members and quickly dropping them off on an airfield to simulate an airfield takeover, said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Cline, a 700th AS loadmaster.
“Airdrops are our bread and butter,” Cline said. “The C-130 is not a big plane but we have the capability to load up and drop equipment. We can do heavy equipment, like Humvees, tanks, anything that can fit on the platform. For personnel, we have the capability of going out of the tailgate or the parachute doors.”
Special Operations Forces Soldiers used the tailgate during the multinational airborne operation, commonly known as the friendship jump, during the final exercise of Eager Lion 19. It was an opportunity to integrate forces in a multinational environment, operate in realistic terrain and strengthen military-to-military relationships.
“Being a Reserve Citizen Airman can be a challenge,” Toste said. “But this experience is good because I can go back to my civilian employer and show them what we’re doing for our country. This is how you’re supporting the military and what we’re doing in order to create a coalition environment, effective exercises and solid working relationships with an international community.”
Also in October, Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 94th AW took part in Exercise Real Thaw 2019 at Beja Air Base, Portugal. The objective was to develop and integrate realistic interoperability tasks both in the air and on the ground between multinational units.
“Our role in the exercise is to be an airlift representation of what the U.S. would bring to a coalition fight,” said Maj. Aaron Brown, 700th AS mission commander for Real Thaw 2019. “Tactical airlift is our bread-and-butter mission in the Reserve so we bring air drop and landing capabilities anywhere in the battle space.”
Approximately 50 Airmen assigned to the flying, maintenance and operations support squadrons and two C-130H3 aircraft from Dobbins participated in this year’s exercise along with military members from various NATO nations including France, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands.
The 94th Airlift Wing provided a majority of the resources dedicated to multi-ship formations with high to low profile airdrops, low-level flying, night vision goggle training, and heavy equipment and personnel airdrops.
“For us it’s all about the integration,” Brown said. “Working with a number of NATO countries allows us to see how they operate while they see how we operate as a U.S. force. In a real-world operation, we are usually not by ourselves, and having this opportunity to practice together is the biggest takeaway.” #ReserveReady
(Carranza is assigned to the 403rd Wing public affairs office and Kincaid and Clayvon are assigned to the 94th AW public affairs office.)