Trilateral training expands life-saving capabilities
Airmen from the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron conducted trilateral training with members of the Royal Australian Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force Feb. 21, at Andersen Air Base, Guam, as part of annual exercise Cope North.
The training was held to elevate the aeromedical evacuation mission through combining each nation’s equipment, personnel and aircraft. Each day entailed a different medical scenario requiring the transportation of simulated patients to higher-medical care through fixed-wing movement.
Capt. Warren Carter, 18th AES flight evaluator from Kadena Air Base, Japan, said this year’s iteration of Cope North resulted in significant improvements toward understanding how each air force operates and how their training has taken trilateral integration to a new level within the aeromedical evacuation community.
Populations throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific are susceptible to a number of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons, which can affect the masses with very little warning. With a heightened level of risk throughout the region, it is critically important for militaries to have the means to provide aeromedical evacuation capabilities for those in need, to include neighboring countries.
While each participating air force is solely capable of providing humanitarian assistance with their own resources, AE units can help more people when they are working together. With this in mind, the training pushed airmen to adapt and become more flexible while working with their counterparts and their foreign platforms.
As a means for the airmen to observe and familiarize themselves with each other’s equipment and procedures, the airmen practiced their life-saving skills aboard a separate C-130 aircraft each day – one belonging to each nation.
Working side-by-side on each other’s aircraft demonstrated the AE airmen’s potential to serve together in the event of a real-world crisis.
The partnered airmen also practiced transporting patients on a U.S. Air Force C-12 Huron, a smaller airframe with a more versatile set of AE capabilities, said Staff Sgt. Robert Grimes, 18th AES mission clinical coordinator and AE technician.
Whereas the larger fuselage of a C-130 has more space for teams to separately load specific medical systems, many medical capabilities came pre-built into the Huron, enabling teams to reduce prep time and quickly load patients.
"We're showing everyone our aircraft so they can see how we operate inside it and give them an idea if they would like to use that type of aircraft in the future,” said Grimes. “They were very open to learning about it and were asking a lot of questions.”
Exercise Cope North is a long-standing exercise designed to enhance multilateral air operations between the partnered militaries, bringing together more than 2,700 U.S. Airmen, Sailors and Marines who are training alongside approximately 600 combined JASDF and RAAF participants.
The 18th AES maintains a forward presence and supports the largest area of operation of medical contingencies in the Pacific, reaching from the Horn of Africa to Alaska. Through multinational exercises such as Cope North, allied units are able to learn from each other, share assets and potentially save more lives.
“It was a great exercise,” said Carter. “Not only did we have the capability to do our interoperability training, but we also built some good friendships and partnerships. This is just the start of greater things to happen; not only in the exercise but actually in real-world missions in the very near future.”