SAN JOSE, Northern Mariana Islands –
A team of contingency response Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard arrived here Sunday to provide cargo handling and aircraft maintenance services for Cope North, a multinational exercise designed to enhance combat readiness in the South Pacific.
The Airmen, all from the 123rd Contingency Response Group, will be sharpening their rapid mobility and air base-opening capabilities over the next 10 days, said Col. Ryan Adams, group commander.
Contingency response elements are a kind of “air base in a box” — a broad team of Airmen who can deploy to a remote, non-functional airfield to establish air cargo and passenger operations within hours of arrival. These teams bring everything they need to be fully self-sufficient, from electrical generation, communications gear and security forces to cargo-handling equipment, aircraft maintenance and airfield control.
“Our element is designed and employed with agility in mind, well before the Agile Combat Employment construct was formalized for the broader Air Force,” Adams said.
Working from the island of Tinian, the team of 14 Kentucky Airmen is postured to support on-load and offload of cargo, as well as quick-turn maintenance, for one aircraft at a time in support of joint and combined combat operations.
“They will support multiple C-130s, including two C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the Kentucky Air National Guard, Pave Hawk helicopters, and aircraft from the Japanese Air Force,” Adams said. “This team of multi-capable Airmen also will conduct airfield survey and assessment, engine-running offloads and wet-wing defueling as they operate under remote and austere conditions.”
Following operations on Tinian, the 123rd is expected to rapidly redeploy to Rota in the Northern Mariana Islands, where they will train with active duty Airmen from the 921st Contingency Response Group, based at Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
“Cope North provides a rare opportunity for the Total Force to exercise this unique mission capability in the demanding environment of the South Pacific,” Adams said.