Home' Air Force News : August 15th 2013 Contents 2
August 15, 2013
SQNLDR Deanna Nott
and Eamon Hamilton
FOR the first time, US and
Australian C-17As have flown
on a joint airdrop mission.
The assignment involved two
C-17As from each service flying
from RAAF Base Amberley to a
drop zone in the Shoalwater Bay
Training Area on July 23 as part
of Exercise Talisman Saber 13.
In 24 hours, C-17A crews
from both countries were able to
meet for the first time, plan their
mission, and fly it the next day.
MAJ Wes Skenfield, a US Air
Force (USAF) C-17A pilot from
Charleston Air Force Base, South
Carolina, was a lead planner for
"The main goal was to do
coalition planning and coalition
flying," MAJ Skenfield said.
"This was mainly a training
flight so we could execute both
the high-low approach to the drop
zone, drop some resupply equip-
ment, and then a low-level return
back to base and we all effected
that, which was great."
With eight countries now
operating the C-17A, the mission
was the first time international
C-17As have flown as a package.
MAJ Skenfield said the mis-
sion was a resounding success
due to the similarity of training
for both services, which was no
surprise given Australia's initial
cadre of pilots trained with the
"I think [the RAAF] took a lot
of the similar tactics, techniques
and procedures and used that
to train their cadre so basically
we're very similar, if not identi-
cal, in the way we operate," MAJ
He said a 36SQN C-17A pilot
flew on board a USAF aircraft
during the mission and was of
great use to the aircrew.
"He absolutely helped us with
the airspace -- any time we had
different control agencies that
may have used terms we were
slightly unfamiliar with, he was
able to help us out and actually
tell us what they were asking for."
MAJ Skenfield said the train-
ing confirmed that if the RAAF
and USAF needed to undertake a
mission to support an operation,
they could do it.
"It should be fairly seamless
-- with a little bit of planning and
effort on our behalf, we can inte-
grate very well," he said.
"It was very important for
us to confirm that was the case,
and this has made us much more
comfortable if we ever have to do
any type of coalition operation in
Commander 36SQN training
flight SQNLDR Col East was
similarly enthusiastic about the
"We wanted to take the oppor-
tunity to expose the squadron
to how the US forces operated,"
SQNLDR East said.
"It's been a conscious deci-
sion to ensure that our training is
aligned with US practice."
SQNLDR East said the mis-
sion demonstrated little difference
in how 36SQN plan and execute
their missions from their US
"We can slot into the US task-
ing line at any time if we have to,
and they can do the same for us,"
He said RAAF C-17As sup-
ported US strategic tasking during
the response to the 2011 Thoku
earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
"The difference [at Talisman
Saber 13] was that there was a
tactical objective, so within that
one day we flew as a package
in to a tactical environment," he
"Every aircraft delivered to
a drop zone that was jointly run
by Australian and US forces, and
then the aircraft flew home at low
level with zero problems."
tasking line at any time if
we have to, and they can
do the same for us.
-- SQNLDR Col East,
JOINT MISSION: A US Air Force C-17A
Globemaster III flies through Queensland
skies en route to the Shoalwater Bay
Training Area during Exercise Talisman
Saber 13. Inset, loadmaster WOFF Col
Moore, of 36SQN, secures a load onto a
Photos: LACs Dan Pinhorn and David Said
Coordination and planning pays off
SQNLDR Malcolm Grieve
AFTER planning started nearly
a year ago, 382 Expeditionary
Combat Support Squadron
(382ECSS) and US Air Force 36th
Contingency Response Group
(36CRG) were understandably
happy with their roles at Exercise
Talisman Saber 13.
They did their work at
Williamson Airfield at the northern
end of the Shoalwater Bay Training
In an example of effective
integration, 382ECSS, from RAAF
Base Amberley, worked with
36CRG on an airbase opening and
CO 382ECSS WGCDR Andrew
Lancaster said the mission began
with an advance team from
36CRG joining up with 382ECSS
at Amberley, after almost a year of
coordination and planning.
The combined team then flew
in on RAAF C-130Js to assume
command and control of the
airfield, taking over from the 1st
Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry
Regiment, which had seized the
area after an air drop on July 20.
"The Australian task was to
provide support and sustainment
to the 36CRG, who were manning
the entry control points and defen-
sive fighting positions with RAAF,"
WGCDR Lancaster said.
The theme for the exercise was
interoperability, and both com-
manders hailed the opportunity to
allow participants to learn different
aspects of their jobs in a combined
Key to the mission success was
the opportunity to learn about each
other's organisational processes,
acronyms and equipment.
Commander 36CRG LTCOL Bill
Percival said the exercise highlight-
ed the Americans' great partnership
with the Australians.
"The RAAF air load team
worked side by side with our
aerial porters, while our engineers
worked with RAAF engineers to
maintain the camp," he said.
"Every function the US does for
airfield management, from intel-
ligence to command and control,
was seamlessly integrated with our
WGCDR Lancaster said the aim
was to develop and improve the
combat readiness of both coun-
"I believe we achieved that and
more," he said.
"Both countries have gained an
expanded operational capability to
better enable future coalition activi-
ties in the region."
SHARED TRAINING: LAC Matt Lang, of 1 Airfield Operations
Support Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley, conducts forklift
familiarisation training with US Air Force technician SGT Chris
Lenane, of 36 Contingency Response Group, during Exercise
Talisman Saber 13. Inset, Ground Support Equipment technician
CPL Luke Boulton, of 382 Expeditionary Combat Support
Squadron, works on a Mack truck engine.
Photos: SSGT Rachelle Coleman and CPL Bill Solomou
Talisman Saber 13
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