A new approach to humanitarian and disaster response being developed by 13th Air Force, headquartered at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, recently got a workout—an operational utility evaluation—over three days of simulations and exercises at Andersen AFB, Guam, capping more than a year’s worth of preparation and planning. The result: the Humanitarian Assistance Rapid Response Team (HARRT) is mission ready. HARRT combines the command and control and base operating support capability of the 36th Contingency Response Group with the medical expertise of the 36th Medical Group to form a small rapid-response that can deploy within 24 hours to an austere environment to help host nations during disaster relief operations. According to Col. Wayne Pritt, 13th Air Force command surgeon, the fact that “there is no time to plan” for disasters “is what drove us to form the HARRT.” The 900-member force developed as Pacific Lifeline proved too large for rapid deployment. Pritt said, “What we needed was something leaner and lighter, yet still capable, that we could package together and put out the door immediately.” HARRT organizers plan to test the package further during a first deployment in September, when the team will provide humanitarian assistance to residents of the Pacific island of Chuuk. (Andersen report by Capt. Andrew Hoskinson)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.