Air Mobility Command has restructured their biennial exercise, formerly known as Air Mobility Rodeo (which last took place in 2011), into a new mission-focused exercise called Mobility Guardian. Originally a competitive event that challenged the best of United States Air Force and international teams in various mission-based competitions, Mobility Guardian has shifted to focus on training up new aircrews to be as versatile as other veteran forces. The event took place from July 31 to August 12, 2017 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, WA.
Mobility Guardian’s events are setup to be some of the most realistic, real-world, scenario-driven events AMC has undertaken yet. The exercise is designed to allow forces to develop and improve techniques and procedures that enhance air mobility operations and interoperability between US and allied forces. These include training for airlift, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation, and mobility support missions. This becomes especially important given that whether the nation is at war or in peacetime, the mobility units are constantly at work helping either the war effort or humanitarian missions, if not both simultaneously.
In an article by the 62nd Airlift Wing, Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Mobility Guardian Director Lt. Col. Daniel DeYoung said “Mobility Guardian provides us an opportunity to ‘train like we fight’ alongside our joint and international partners.” “It is a completely new exercise meant to enhance mobility partnerships and test the full spectrum of capabilities Air Mobility Command provides the nation.”
“Whereas Rodeo incentivized units to take their best performers from across the Air Force Specialty Code spectrum—operators, maintainers, medical and support Airmen—and give them extra ‘top-off’ training to prepare for the competition, Mobility Guardian participants will by design be the ‘average’ Airman, who will be tested to employ his or her skills to accomplish the mission laid out in the exercise scenario.”
Numerous nations came to observe and participate in the launch of this new exercise, with a handful bringing their own aircraft. The Royal Canadian Air Force dedicated a pair of their CC-130J Super Hercules’, while the Pāk Fizāʾiyah (Pakistan Air Force/PAF), Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF), Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), and Luchtcomponent (Belgian Air Component) flew in their C-130 Hercules aircraft, and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) brought their C-17 Globemaster IIIs and an Airbus KC-30A Voyager. The Royal Air Force (RAF) and Armée de l’air (French Air Force) both brought their latest aircraft, the Airbus A400M Atlas. Participating AMC units flew their C-130s, C-130J-30s, C-17s, KC-10 Extenders, and KC-135 Stratotankers from JBLM.
Other US military units participated in the aerial refueling training. Those include A-10 Thunderbolt IIs of the 124th Fighter Wing, Gowen Field Air National Guard Base, Idaho; US Navy E/A-18G Growlers of VA-129, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington.; F-15C Eagles of the 142nd FW, Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon; F-16C Fighting Falcons and F-35 Lightning IIs assigned to Hill AFB, Utah; F-15E Strike Eagles of Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; and Air Force Global Strike Command B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress bombers.
According to Team McChord’s summary article, aircrews flew roughly 1,200 hours in eight days, finishing nearly 650 sorties. Tanker aircraft offloaded roughly 1.2 million pounds of fuel, aerial port personnel processed 3,676 passengers and 4,911 tons of equipment; and crews airdropped 356 paratroopers, 33 heavy platforms and nearly 300 Container Delivery System bundles.
We’d like to thank Air Mobility Command, the 62nd Airlift Wing, and Capt. Jacob Bailey for allowing us to come and tour the exercise at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.