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19th AW executes Rocket Launch rehearsal

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Dana J. Cable
  • 19th Airlift Wing

The 19th Airlift Wing successfully employed their newly developed Rocket Launch Playbook, May 15 – 17, 2023.

The Rocket Launch Playbook is a newly created supplement to the base’s Installation Deployment Plan. It provides a means for the 19th AW to rapidly deploy its C-130J Force Elements. 

To be effective in the future fight, intratheater airlift will need to deploy with exceptional speed to enable the joint scheme of maneuver.

“There are contingencies that exist that would require us to be in place a lot faster than we are used to,” said Lt. Col. Aaron Webb, 19th Operations Group deputy commander. “There's a luxury of time that we've had the last 20 years in a sustainment phase of a conflict where we had plenty of time to get everyone ready to go—I don’t think we are going to have the luxury of time in the contingencies we are talking about in the future.”

The exercise consisted of rapidly deploying more than 160 personnel and eight C-130J Super Hercules aircraft at a pace much faster than typical sustainment-phase deployment timelines.

“This gets after trying to exercise something that we are literally writing as we are rehearsing it to try and learn as fast possible and get it right prior to Mobility Guardian 2023,” said Webb.

In addition to the rapid deployment of personnel and cargo, the 19th AW conducted a first-of-its-kind maximum endurance mission.

Two C-130J Super Hercules conducted 30-hour single-aircraft endurance missions, demonstrating multi-day mission generation capabilities. For more than 30 hours, the aircraft only landed to refuel. This mission was accomplished with crews from the 61st and 41st Airlift Squadrons continuously operating two C-130s to demonstrate the fleet’s ability to project agile combat airlift.

The execution of the endurance component of this rehearsal served as a proof of concept to support Pacific Air Force’s and Air Mobility Command’s planning efforts and the Air Force’s focus on persistent mission generation over large distances and under extended operations.

Collaborators from across the wing came together to form an integrated installation problem-solving team known as Task Force Hermes.

“Task Force Hermes wrote the Playbook,” said Webb. “Experts from mission support, medical, ops, maintenance, and wing staff all came together, all pushing toward the same goal.”

The ability to get in the air as fast as possible is something that has made airpower different than some other military components.

Experimentation as opposed to evaluation was at the heart of the Rocket Launch rehearsal of concept.

“This exercise was less an inspection as it was a rehearsal,” said Webb. “We are using the Wing Inspection Team to extract data and using that data to help us refine the Playbook.”

Equipped with discipline in the fundamentals and pushing through barriers, Black Knights embraced taking deliberate risk while demonstrating the wing’s ability to rapidly generate airpower. 

“I am extremely proud of the Black Knights and our performance in this exercise,” said Col. Angela Ochoa, 19th AW commander. “This was our first time executing this plan and I expected us to find areas where we can make it better.  We now have new capabilities that can make us faster and more lethal to bring a decisive victory for our nation.”