Two aircraft and approximately 170 RAAF personnel are wrapping up a joint military exercise alongside the US and Japan.
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Australia, Japan and the United States are concluding operations at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam as part of Exercise Cope North — a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief scenario.
According to Deputy Commander of the Multinational Task Force (MNTF) Wing Commander Alan Brown, the exercise, which commenced on 3 February, has been a success, despite challenges during the initial phase.
“The MNTF headquarters had to reach operational effectiveness very fast in order to provide support and guidance to the combined team on the ground," he said.
“The headquarters staff and the response force on the ground melded really well and very quickly.”
The scenario was based on a natural disaster occurring on a fictitious island in the Indo-Pacific region, and focused on establishing expeditionary airfields for the delivery of humanitarian relief.
WGCDR Brown noted the impact of weather events on the livelihoods of civilians in the tropics.
“The humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission was to support a whole-of-government response to a small island nation north of Australia, which had been severely impacted by a typhoon,” he added.
“My role was to provide higher headquarters guidance to the trilateral forces deploying forward in support of the mission.”
WGCDR Brown, the Commanding Officer of No. 383 Squadron, also credited the leadership of the Koku-Jieitai team, which led the exercise for the first time.
“This is the first time I’ve worked with the Koku-Jieitai and we have worked really well together to make the headquarters operate effectively,” he said.
“We were all very keen to understand and learn how a contingency response headquarters operates and what the priorities are to successfully achieve a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission.”
Commander of the MNTF Colonel Shinobu Yamamoto said Cope North fostered collaboration between the nations.
“This year has been difficult because of COVID-19, however the MNTF team has worked hard to integrate and form a cohesive team even under the COVID restrictions,” he said.
“Commanding the MNTF during the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief phase of the exercise has been a wonderful experience and I have enjoyed working in this trilateral partnership.”