For the first time, Royal Australian Air Force units are participating in the annual Cope North exercise between Pacific Air Forces and the Japan Air Self Defense Force at Andersen AFB, Guam. Tri-national air combat training with F-16 aggressors from Eielson AFB, Alaska, and coalition humanitarian and disaster-response exercises dominate the first week’s schedule. The second week will focus on integrated “large-force employment,” according to 13th Air Force exercise planner Maj. John Greven. In addition to PACAF assets, B-52s on rotation to Guam from Minot AFB, N.D., will fly both as “friendly forces, as well as being tasked to simulate opposing forces,” he noted. Highlighted by last year’s disaster response in Japan, “there is tremendous value added in working and exercising side-by-side with our allies,” underscored Greven. More than 1,000 airmen from the three countries are participating in the two-week exercise that runs through Feb. 24. (Andersen report by A1C Whitney Tucker)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.