TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Distinguished visitors from the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force and the Royal Saudi Air Force visited here, April 26 through May 2, to get a first-hand experience of the 821st Contingency Response Group capability to provide expeditionary mobility support.
During the visit, the DVs received briefs from each of the squadrons in the CRG, a tour of the 621st Contingency Response Wing facilities, and a look at ongoing training during an active military exercise, Cerberus Strike.
Cerberus Strike, also known as C-Strike, is a contingency response-centric joint mobility exercise that takes place over an 11-day timeframe. The exercise provided contingency response forces the opportunity to rehearse potential real-world situations in a joint environment by training in aerial port procedures, aircraft engine running off-loads, and cargo uploading and downloading.
“I enjoyed the visit,” said Brig. Gen. Ahmed Mohammed Al-Shami, RSAF’s chief of air support division. “The CRW was very supportive and I look forward to developing a strategic partnership to gain more information and training to develop RSAF’s air mobility force.”
The 621st CRW vice commander, Col. Joel Safranek, elaborated on why the RSAF’s visit to Travis Air Force Base and the CRW’s mission to advise, direct, and project air power fit perfectly in line with Saudi Arabian senior leadership’s search for advice on how to best organize, train, and operate their own expeditionary air mobility operations.
“Saudi Arabia has continued to be a strategic partner in the region and this visit was another step in maintaining that long-term positive partnership,” Safranek said. “Their air force has started to understand the importance of a focused air mobility arm as part of their overall capabilities.”
The representatives from the two nations also received an in-depth look at the CRW’s equipment and learned more about how it’s used to support mobility operations in support of humanitarian relief and disaster response scenarios as well as during air base opening missions.
After the RAF toured the CRW’s facilities, the military members headed to Amedee Army Field, California, to observe the exercise in motion.
“We wanted to use the C-Strike exercise as a training mechanism for RAF personnel in reconnaissance skills, and particularly for our Expeditionary Air Wings,” said RAF Wing Commander Christopher Thorpe.
The U.K.’s EAWs enable the RAF’s capability to open and sustain deployed operating bases in the same way the CRW does for the U.S military. Observing exercises such as C- Strike allows the RAF members to better visualize how they would be able to train to operate during similar scenarios.
“Our team wanted to test the exercise scenario and see if it could meet our needs, and we were really pleased,” Thorpe said. “We will be working with the CRW to manipulate the scenario to better our training and join them on their next exercise in the future.”
The 821st CRG Commander Col. Justin Niederer said, “Bringing members from the RSAF and RAF into [observe] our exercise planning strengthens our partnerships, their national security, and enables us to better integrate our forces in the future.”
“It is always beneficial to share lessons learned and methods to enhance capabilities with our international partners,” Niederer said. “Contingency response is a low-density, high-demand mission set for our nation and others have seen the large return on investment our units offer during short-notice, combat-support, and humanitarian response missions.”
The contingency response mobility Airmen regularly train side-by-side with joint and international partner nations. Whether it’s delivering humanitarian aid or transporting coalition forces and equipment around the world, these developed partnerships help to accomplish the mission more efficiently and effectively, delivering instruments of national power to the leading edge of global reach.