62d AW exemplifies Agile Combat Employment during Swift Response

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Zoe Thacker
  • 62d Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Several 62d Airlift Wing C-17 Globemaster III’s roar to life as loadmasters, maintainers and pilots alike prepare for the flight ahead. The loadmasters don their gloves and headsets as the pilots and maintainers begin their pre-flight checks before takeoff. A headset crackle and the boisterous humming of the heavy cargo jet is the soundtrack to the forthcoming week or so.

Once chocks were pulled from underneath wheels, seatbelts were on and the aircraft was clear for takeoff; U.S. Air Force Airmen with the 7th and 8th Airlift Squadron(s) ascended thousands of feet into the Pacific Northwest skies and flew straight in to Exercise Swift Response, from May 7-16.

Exercise Swift Response is one of the premier military crisis response training events for multinational airborne forces in the world. This exercise focuses on building airborne interoperability with Allies and partners, and the integration of joint service partners in a contested environment. Swift Response expanded to four regions: the Arctic High North, Baltics, Balkans and Caucasus.

This expansion demonstrates U.S. Army Europe and Africa’s capabilities and its operational reach to rapidly deploy and employ U.S. and Europe-based multi-national airborne forces with little to no warning from across the globe. The exercise includes approximately 9,000 participants from 17 Allied and partner nations.

What was the role of our C-17’s? To provide a vehicle for airdrop missions in both Norway and Latvia; airdropping U.S. Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division and 82nd Airborne Division. 

“Air Mobility Command and the 62nd Airlift Wing are the top tier organizations that provide rapid global mobility to our combatant commanders,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Calvin Woodard, deputy air mission commander. “This exercise specifically showcased our ability to quickly deliver combat power in the European Command area of responsibility.”

Swift Response evaluated the readiness of the core ground component of the U.S. Army, the 4/25 IBCT out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, alongside high-readiness forces from Albania, Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, Netherlands and Poland, as well as additional U.S. Army and Air Force units in Europe.

In addition to military forces from around the globe, the 62d AW aircrews were joined by crews from the 446th Airlift Wing at JBLM, and the 437th and 315th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, on this mission.

Aircrew personnel arrived at JBER, on May 7 and began working with the 4/25 IBCT in person to get ready for the airdrop mission. After months of planning by both the Air Force, Army and our Allied Nations; Swift Response was finally coming to fruition. 

U.S. Air Force Col. Sergio Anaya, air component mission commander and 62d Operations Group commander, spoke with Swift Response aircrews and our Army partners to ensure everyone was ready to support and understood their importance to the future of air and land superiority. 

“It’s the very young men and women sitting in this room who represent the backbone of America’s democracy and uphold our Constitution with dignity,” Anaya said. “We [Air Force components] are incredibly looking forward to supporting this exercise.”

As more than 400 paratroopers boarded the cargo jets May 9, the aircrew and the jumpers alike were fired up and ready to demonstrate the warfighting capabilities of the United States. 

The crews began their journey to Norway, but due to unsafe wind conditions, did not complete the airdrop mission. The aircrew landed the jet in Norway, offloaded their Army brothers and sisters to continue on with their portion of the exercise and moved toward Slovenia for the next leg.

Luckily, our crews based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, for the exercise were able to safely execute airdrop activities there. 

“Although weather prohibited dropping our paratroopers in Norway and Latvia, the planning and integration between our planners, joint partners and our NATO allies resulted in an increased level of understanding and interoperability for future integration,” Woodard said.

Our pilots, loadmasters and maintenance Airmen were as prepared as possible for Swift Response. These Airmen fully exemplified Agile Combat Employment and moved with precision, a warfighting mentality and teamwork with our Army and Allied nations partners.