Mobility Guardian flies high

Gray Tail Diplomacy in action

By J.M. Simpson on August 10, 2017

Sitting in the left back seat of a bus near a KC-10 Extender aircraft parked at Fairchild Air Force Base, Air Commodore Dominic Stamp turned to his left and said, "Very good show, this exercise."

He explained that his role in the Royal Air Force is the equivalent of Gen. Carlton Everhart, commander, Air Mobility Command, responsibilities, and that he was impressed.

"It's just only that my work in the UK is on a much smaller scale," Stamp said with a smile.  

"Mobility Guardian allows me and others to better integrate with the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) nations and allies we work with in the world."

Hosted by Joint Base Lewis-McChord's 62nd Airlift Wing, the Air Mobility Command's (AMC) inaugural Mobility Guardian exercised the spectrum of the Air Force's capabilities and its interoperability among nearly 30 participating, allied nations.

Approximately 80 to 90 sorties have been flown daily during the exercise, which began July 31 and ends Aug. 12.

Landing at McAllister Field, Yakima Airport, after a short flight from McChord in a French A-400, Maj. Gen. Chris Bence, commander, United States Air Force Expeditionary Center, talked to about 45 civic leaders and military officers from around the country about the work being done around the world as a bus headed to the Yakima Training Center (YTC).

"We are currently operating in twenty-three nations in seventy-seven locations," he said.  

He underscored the work the Air Force's expeditionary forces have done in Iraq and Syria in combatting ISIS.

"Our airlift, tanker, aeromedical and in-route support capabilities allow us to engage in peace and war in a changing world," commented Col. Chris Karns, director, Air Mobility Command Public Affairs.

"We engage in ‘Gray Tail Diplomacy.'  We bring hope and relief in humanitarian missions, and we can also bring power to a conflict."

After a 45-minute drive deep into YTC, a Belgium C-130 appeared out of the haze and airdropped two pallets containing boxes of MREs (Meals Ready to Eat).

After lunch and a bus ride back to McAllister, the group boarded a McChord-based C-17 configured for aeromedical evacuation that lifted off and headed for Fairchild AFB.

The aeromedical crew highlighted the interoperability of nations working together.

The medical crew was comprised of airmen from bases around the country; joining them were medical personnel from Taiwan, as well as a number of observers from Colombia, New Zealand and the Philippines.

During the flight, a civilian became ill and needed immediate medical attention.

No one missed a beat.

The two Taiwanese medical members began stabilizing the patient.  Maj. (Dr.) Justin Reis from the Critical Care Air Transport Team (CCATT) began coordinating efforts; several medical technicians from the Alaska Guard and Scott AFB began to set up equipment.

For over 30 minutes medical personnel worked to stabilize the woman.   

The simulation was as close to real as real can get -- at one point an observer thought that a medical technician was going to actually intubate the patient.

After the C-17 touched down at Fairchild, the group of civic leaders and officers toured an aeromedical evacuation center before boarding a Travis-based KC-10 Extender, a refueling aircraft, for a flight back to McChord.  

During the flight, a C-17 was to be refueled; however, the KC-10s boom through which gas is passed was inoperable.

"We train as we fight," said Karns.

"But just as important, we work side-by-side in peace with our friends in strengthening our commitment to them."