Japan Air Self-Defense Force Master Sgt. Hiroshi Moriyama guides a forklift out of a C-130 Hercules on Feb. 19 at the Rota International Airport. Airmen from the Air Force, JASDF and Royal Australian air force participating in Cope North, a multilateral exercise on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. (Senior Airman Marianique Santos/Air Force)
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The largest U.S.-led air exercise in the Pacific wrapped up Friday, and this year’s iteration marked the first time South Korea participated in the training.
Exercise Cope North 2014, which ran from Feb. 19-28 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, included more than 1,800 personnel from the U.S., Australia, Japan and Korea. The exercise included about 90 aircraft flying air-to-air and air-to-ground exercises, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training.
The Korean contingent this year included 25 participants, along with a NC-235 cargo aircraft, focused on humanitarian assistance.
The training comes during the Defense Department’s pivot to the Asia Pacific, which will send more troops and more equipment to the region focusing on the rise of China and other threats such as North Korea.
Officials involved in this year’s iteration point toward recent humanitarian response, such as the Philippine typhoon in November and the 2011 earthquake in Eastern Japan as reasons for the countries to be ready to respond together.
“We built an outstanding working relationship throughout the Operation Damayan relief effort, and exercises like Cope North reinforce the ‘muscle memory’ of how each nation operates and the best way to dovetail capabilities into a complete relief package,” said Col. Thomas Livingston, commander of the 36th Contingency Response Group, in a release.
The Air Force contingent included the 13th Fighter Squadron from Misawa Air Base, Japan; the 67th Fighter squadron from Kadena Air Base, Japan; the 909th Air Refueling Squadron from Kadena; the 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron from Kadena; the 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; the 36th Airlift Squadron from Yokota Air Base, Japan; the 18th Aggressor Squadron from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska; the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron from Andersen; and the 36th Contingency Response Group from Andersen.
The airborne part of the training included the U.S., Japanese and Australian fighters and bombers coordinating through land-based and airborne command and control for air-to-air and air-to-surface training, which included live bomb runs on the Farallon de Medinilla Range, which is about 160 nautical miles north of Guam.