ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --
The roaring of a C-17 Globemaster III engine fills the cargo aircraft as the troop doors are lifted open.
The wind rips across the faces of the jumpmasters checking the perimeter of the doors, while the clicks of static lines being hooked to the anchor cables ricochets throughout the cabin.
The drop zone, engulfed in a jungle terrain, breaks open through the clouds.
Five … four … three … two … one … GREEN LIGHT!
The 62nd Operations Group, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, traveled more than 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean to participate in exercise Garuda Shield 21, conducted at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Aug. 1-6, 2021.
Garuda Shield 21 is a two-week long U.S. Army Pacific-sponsored exercise, which involved approximately 1,000 U.S. and 850 Indonesian Army Soldiers, that enhanced combined interoperability capabilities through training and cultural exchange.
Hosted by the Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI), the joint exercise continued to solidify the U.S.-Indonesia Major Defense Partnership and advanced cooperation in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific Region.
“This exercise was about power projection and the reassurance of U.S. commitment to our partner and allies,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Sergio Anaya, commander of the 62nd OG. “In conjunction with the 82nd [Airborne Division] and USARPAC, we enabled exactly that.”
A total of 10 Globemaster III’s from four geographically separated Air Mobility Command wings came together to showcase AMC’s global reach of combat power and provide tactical airlift and airdrop support. Airlift squadrons from the AMC wings hailed from JBLM, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, and Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina.
During the week, a nine-ship C-17 formation departed from Andersen AFB and flew more than 3,000 nautical miles, airdropping nearly 600 U.S. and Indonesian Army Soldiers onto Indonesian soil.
Troops on the ground are the most tangible demonstration of U.S. commitment, and the presence of such troops emphasizes U.S. dedication to allies and partners.
The joint exercise provided opportunities for professional and cultural exchanges that strengthen enduring partnerships through shared learning and training. The training involved company-strength elements from each nation exercising combined, fundamental war-fighting skills to enhance interoperability and combined operational capacity.
“This exercise provided us yet [another] opportunity to sharpen our skills in multi-domain operations while operating near-peer contested environments,” Anaya said.
This airdrop capability demonstrated how the U.S. Army and Air Force remain ready to respond globally to any threat.
McChord Field was the C-17 lead for the exercise, which entailed the responsibility of providing the air mission commander and the mission planning cell lead.
In addition to the nine-ship formation, two air refueling missions were conducted en route by KC-135 Stratotankers for two C-17s departing from Charleston that flew just under 7,500 nautical miles non-stop to Guam and executed a personnel airdrop.
“It takes an entire team to pull this off,” Anaya continued. “I’m so proud of what they accomplished. We also had immense support from across the Pacific and from our home station here at JBLM. I cannot highlight enough the work by our ground personnel, our maintainers, aerial port, crew transportation, lodging, and many others who came to together to make this happen.”