Exercise Rainier War 22B: setting the standard for AMC’s certifying events

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Colleen Anthony
  • 62d Airlift Wing Public Affairs

As Exercise Rainier War 22B comes to a close, Team McChord reflects on the groundbreaking firsts that help set the standard for Air Mobility Command’s certifying events. Through this exercise, Airmen championed innovative ideas to execute an Integrated Combat Turn: the rapid re-arming and refueling of aircraft in austere environments.

“This is the first time that we’ve brought in our own R-11 refueler, munitions, bomb loaders and the Multi-Capable Airmen package to do a re-arm and refuel of a fighter aircraft,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Matthew Weinberg, 62d Airlift Wing exercise director of Rainier War 22B. “We didn’t have access to anything else during Rainier War other than what we brought, and we did the refueling, rearming, collapsed the site and flew away. That is what makes Rainier War so unique, because the site was empty before us, and empty after us.”

One of the many challenges of deployed environments is access to fuel. Entering enemy territory to plan and stage a refueling site ahead of time isn’t always a safe option. The Airmen of Team McChord used Rainier War 22B to test a solution for this problem.

“There are only a few ways that you can get fuel to an austere location, but those methods can leave you open to the enemy,'' said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Colin Coleman, ramp coordinator with the 7th Airlift Squadron during Rainier War 22B. “What we aimed to accomplish here was an ICT; waiting up to 36 hours for the R-11 Fuel Truck to be completely drained wasn't an option.”

Months before Rainier War 22B, Team McChord, AMC and Air Force Materiel Command diligently coordinated a waiver for one of McChord’s R-11 Fuel Truck, to fly without the standard fuel purging process in a C-17 Globemaster III. Although this isn't the first time this R-11 waiver has been applied, it is the first time Air Force observation teams oversaw its execution, which could drive policy change for R-11 air transportation. The team was represented by officials from Air Force Petroleum Agency, AFMC Packaging and Policy Branch, AMC’s: Test and Evaluation, and Directorate of Air, Space and Information Operations.

“The big takeaway from the waiver was having the observation team available to monitor the R-ll during flight. I am optimistic this will lead to air transport policy change, which will save time during future operations,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Rick Roberts, fuels superintendent with the 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

Following in the footsteps of last year's integration of wet-wing defueling operations, McChord’s dedication to cutting refueling time by 24+ hours led to the success of ICT operations during Rainier War 22B, and the furthering of the 62d Airlift Wing’s combat capabilities in austere locations.

“I’ve never seen refueling done that way,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Logan Wherley, a petroleum, oil, and lubricants journeyman with the 627th LRS. “It's something us Airmen are just starting to understand, but it's taught me to be ready to adapt.”

Certifying events such as Rainier War create opportunities for units to apply higher risk tactics in a safe environment, rather than out of necessity, down range.

“It’s important for a certifying event to include things that haven't been seen or done before. You need to see that Airmen can handle the unexpected when they're deployed and alone,” said Coleman. “This exercise has helped build that standard and hopefully it will push out to the rest of AMC and become the baseline.”