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62nd AW kicks off Rainier War

Senior Airman Grace Brabender, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron, prepares to secure a vehicle inside a C-17 Globemaster III

Senior Airman Grace Brabender, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron, prepares to secure a vehicle inside a C-17 Globemaster III during Exercise Long Hammer/Rainier War at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 6, 2020. Exercises like these maintain Team McChord’s readiness to deploy and operate anywhere anytime. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sara Hoerichs)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – The 62nd Airlift Wing kicked off 2021 Exercise Rainier War, April 19. Exercise Rainier War is a major exercise for the Wing, including multiple airlift and fighter assets, joint partners and special operations forces.

Exercise Rainier War evaluates the Wing’s ability to plan, generate and execute a deployment tasking, sustain contingency operations and demonstrate Full Spectrum Readiness while in a Contested, Degraded and Operationally Limited (CDO) environment. It also tests the Wing’s ability to maintain and sustain essential home station missions during and after deployment operations.

“This is the most robust exercise we’ve ever executed as Team McChord,” said Col. Erin Staine-Pyne, 62nd AW commander. “I am very excited to see the results of our exercise in order to gauge our level of readiness and enhance our national security.”

This year’s Rainier War has three lines of effort: Agile Combat Employment, High-End Tactical Training, and Accelerate Change in how we conduct warfighting.

The exercise consists of two phases. Phase 1 is designed to process and prepare personnel and cargo for a deployment for a Main Operating Base (MOB) and demonstrate their abilities to survive and operate in a chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear or explosive environment. Personnel will operate in a Contested, Degraded and Operationally limited environment, particularly with enemy disruption of the base’s communications capabilities, forcing Airmen to consistently adapt to changing conditions and generate creative solutions.

“Phase 2 of the exercise will evaluate the units’ ability to employ the force, project combat power, and to perform wartime or contingency taskings against a near-peer adversary” said Maj. Brett Troutman, 62nd AW exercise director. “The battlefield our Airmen face in a near-peer fight will be more disruptive and dangerous than we have ever seen. The National Defense Strategy directs us to develop innovative operational concepts to be more lethal, adaptive, and resilient in the face of this enemy.”

This exercise is the 62nd AW’s answer to that task, Troutman said. The wing is developing and testing Agile Combat Employment tactics that will make the force capable of achieving strategic positioning for strike operations, allowing to fight from positions of advantage, reduce force’s vulnerabilities and predictability, and complicate the enemy’s targeting. Additionally, Airmen in this exercise will need to accomplish this while battling through disruptions to connectivity and utilizing conditions based authorities, which have never been tried before at McChord.

During Phase 2, units and personnel will be simulating operations from a base cluster following a deployment tasking. Personnel will be deploying and conducting exercise operations at Travis Air Force Base, California, which will serve as the Main Operating Base and hub of the base cluster. Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and Yakima, Washington, will all serve as Forward Operating Bases.

“We are developing capabilities to re-arm and refuel our fighter aircraft without a sustained ground presence that is vulnerable to enemy attack. General Brown has stated that we can no longer assume that our bases are sanctuaries and we must be capable of operating from smaller and more agile locations,” Troutman said. “We can do that by infilling Tailored Force Packages on C-17s that contain the Multi Capable Airmen and equipment that we need to refuel and rearm fighter aircraft. We essentially turn the C-17 into a flying gas station and weapons depot, which enables our fighters to stay engaged in the fight to achieve air superiority.

Additionally, C-17s will conduct KC-46 air refueling operations, participate in F-15E escort sorties, and transport various assets into a simulated combat environment including a Stryker Mission Command Package, an RQ-7 unmanned aerial vehicle, and a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.

“Integrating with our joint partners in the Stryker Mission Command Package is important to us because connecting to their datalink establishes a shared operational picture of a dynamic battlespace,” Troutman explained. “Datalink is an important capability against an advanced enemy because it permits sharing of real-time threat information to our aircrews, which gives them a fighting chance to avoid engagements from multiple known threats that would otherwise be very difficult for them to track. This capability can significantly reduce the potential for blue force losses.”

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