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Multinational exercise Cope North 15 comes to a close

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Melissa B. White
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
 Exercise Cope North 15 officially concluded here Feb. 27, 2015, after approximately two weeks of training.

The exercise this year ran Feb. 15-27 and marked the 86th iteration of the multilateral training exercise which is a long-standing, multinational event designed to increase interoperability, improve combat readiness, and develop a synergistic disaster response capability between the countries involved.

More than 2,339 military members participated this year making it the largest Cope North exercise to date. The participants came from the United States, Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand and Philippines, as well as observers from the Singapore and Vietnam air forces.

"We live in a complex security environment and it's very unlikely in the future that we would deploy to any crisis or contingency by ourselves and try to solve any problems or provide assistance on our own," said Royal Australian Air Force Group Capt. Phil Gordon, RAAF exercise director. "The future is all about coalitions; it's about likeminded partners coming together to help resolve any situation. And so that's particularly important in our region and where we are in the world that we have a close relationship with Japan and the U.S. because they're the partners that we're going to come together and work with if there's any security crisis in our region."

The exercise had two main objectives overall including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training involving air base opening and aeromedical evacuations, and also an air combat training portion which included air-to-air and air-to-ground combat and a large force employment exercise.

Cope North started off with the four-day HA/DR scenario on the nearby islands of Rota and Tinian and mirrored the team's real-world capabilities of being able to maintain operations for five days in the event of a disaster until civilian agencies would be able to support the impacted area. During that timeframe, the air forces demonstrated these capabilities by treating 70 patients, moving more than 216 passengers, transporting approximately 700,000 pounds of cargo, and conducting approximately 25 airdrops before concluding and redeploying back to Guam.

The air combat and LFE portion of the exercise occurred in the second half of Cope North from Feb. 19-27. This objective focused on more traditional air combat training where a large number of fighter aircraft came together with aerial refuelers and command and control aircraft in complex air combat scenarios while they employed offensive and defensive counter air techniques. In total, the pilots flew more than 1,450 missions and delivered nearly 100 weapons in the nine-day period.

"During this exercise, I learned a lot of things ..." said Japan Air Self-Defense Force Col. Toru Ota, JASDF exercise director. "We had a great exercise with great friends from the U.S. forces and the RAAF ... we three countries are a very strategic piece of the Asia-Pacific region ..."

Andersen AFB started hosting Cope North annually in 1999, but the event was previously held in Japan up until that point as often as four times per year. The next Cope North exercise is slated for early 2016.

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