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Team McChord promotes interoperability during RF-A, Rainier War

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Sutton
  • 62d Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Members from Team McChord participated in Exercise RED FLAG, Alaska 23-1 and Exercise Rainier War 22B, October 3-21.

During the nearly month-long exercises, multiple U.S. and allied aircraft and personnel practiced executing simulated combat missions in and over training areas above Alaska.

RED FLAG-Alaska is a series of Pacific Air Forces commander-directed field training exercises for U.S. forces, providing joint offensive counter-air, interdiction, close air support, and large force employment training in a simulated combat environment.

Exercise Rainier War is a full-scale readiness exercise with a Force Generation prioritization; demonstrating the ability to generate, employ and sustain a combat force during a rigorous wartime scenario.

“Our purpose here was to integrate with other units, both in planning and execution,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. James McCormick, 7th Airlift Squadron director of operations. “RED FLAG is an amazing opportunity for us to conduct training operations in a near-peer environment with other aircraft and personnel.”

McCormick also led the Team McChord members participating in RF-A 23-1 and Rainier War 22B as the 7th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, Detachment 1 commander.

“Planning and executing operations alongside other mission partners is an entirely different task and something most of our members don’t have the opportunity to train on regularly,” said McCormick. “Bringing our team to Alaska and working with a large, combined force to plan and fly missions in a simulated, contested environment is a phenomenal training opportunity and a chance to start building a cadre of aircrew who are experienced in these operations.”

The main goal for crews during Exercise Rainier War was to exercise and evaluate Team McChord’s ability to conduct Rapid Global Mobility into and in support of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s area of responsibility.
Opportunities to participate in large-force exercises like RED FLAG enable personnel to interact and train together in realistic scenarios.

“Being able to effectively integrate with all the players, some of whom are from other locations, is essential as we work to create an effective team that includes the United States, United Kingdom, and New Zealand,” said Maj. Derek Fiebig, 62d Airlift Wing command post deputy chief of command and control operations. “Finally, we are demonstrating successful delivery, either landing or airdrop, of simulated cargo to contested landing or drop zones.”

Fiebig also acted as the 7th EAS Detachment 1 director of operations while participating in RF-A 23-1 and Rainier War 22B.
Aircrews trained daily to gain situational awareness to better understand how various radar, weather and exercise threats would impact their missions.

“A big challenge we faced was aircraft icing, since it was October in Alaska,” said McCormick. “However, we were able to overcome this challenge and re-combine crews ensuring effective training was accomplished. Additionally, we arranged air refueling with partner units training crewmembers on this unique responsibility.”

McCormick continued by explaining how forces think and react to combat employment.

“The Combat Air Forces focus on high-tempo, air-to-air or air-to-surface engagements from high altitude, so their standards for communications and employment are different than what we as Mobility Air Force players are used to,” McCormick stated. “Our standard tactics for mission success are different as compared to fighter aircraft and aircrew, so to overcome these challenges, we ensured a complete and thorough planning process. This gave all crews the opportunity to review every aspect of the mission to achieve success.”

During the two-week exercise, the operations tempo was also a challenge for members. Crews planned one day, flew and debriefed the next day, and then were in the following day to plan for the next day’s mission. Maintainers also worked daily ensuring aircraft were mission ready.

“The entire 7th EAS was motivated and excited to be doing something new and interesting, and I'm happy to say that excitement seemed to carry the members through an otherwise strenuous exercise,” said McCormick.

Exercises like RED FLAG-Alaska and Rainier War give Team McChord Airmen an excellent opportunity to learn and grow as servicemembers.

“The entire experience was outstanding and an unparalleled training experience for our members,” said McCormick. “We integrated with multiple aircraft and partner nations, we were able to get mountainous low-level training, integration training, as well as operational and semi-prepared runway operations training accomplished all in preparation to deploy anywhere across the globe.”