Total Force Teamwork Leads to RIMPAC Success

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ariel OShea
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs

There is a tendency for people to think of the U.S. military as a massive singular unit, rather than complimentary units working in unison. This is actually how the Armed Forces function and nowhere is that concept more on display than during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022.

RIMPAC 2022, a biennial international maritime exercise, showcasing collaboration between 26 partner nations on a large scale. This is not its only function, however, as it also facilitates the opportunity for different branches of the American Armed Forces to come together and learn from each other. RIMPAC is known as a maritime exercise by virtue of the U.S. Navy serving as the host service, and working with them is a key component of operations for all who participate.

“There was a lot of coordination just from something as simple as making sure we have forklifts and vehicles to operate,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Terrelle Thomas, a maintenance production superintendent from the 29th Aircraft Maintenance Unit. “We had to figure out the space of the airfield that we could actually have or flight lines that we can access.”

He said it could have been a logistical nightmare, but the Navy and Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, were easy to work with. All parties involved were able to find common ground in working toward a shared goal.

“It's been cool seeing how they do different things,” said Thomas. “Some of our lingo is a lot different, but we all operate under the same principle–to get aircraft in the air.”

He said it’s the best part of joint-force partnerships. This has been his first time assisting and receiving assistance from the Navy, but he said the only way forward for the Air Force is to maximize cooperation with other branches.

“If I can set up a location and talk to the right people and get the right equipment and things that I need and not have to rely on an Air Force base that's about 30 minutes away to get everything I need, I think that's pretty good in the long run,” said Thomas.

U.S. Air National Guard Master Sgt. Julio Arana, a MQ-9A Reaper communications production superintendent assigned to the 163rd Maintenance Squadron, has worked alongside other branches before and has seen the utility of providing help where needed.

“We're demonstrating to the other branches that we're able to support them,” said Arana. “We've done it in the [area of responsibility] for the Marines and the Army for the longest time, but now, we're doing it here also for the Navy, and they've never seen this side of it.”

Because the Air Force isn’t a singular structure either, there is plenty to learn on an inter-service level as well, he said. RIMPAC 2022 marks the first appearance of the MQ-9A Reaper, a remotely piloted aircraft, and its presence brought in military teams from California, New Mexico and Nevada.

With personnel from both the active-duty element, Reserves and Air National Guard, the collective group ensures that it is fully operational. All the while, everyone learns new techniques that will take to improve their day-to-day operations upon returning home.

“If we don’t all work together here, we will die on the battlefield,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jacob Johnson, an Aircraft Armaments Systems craftsman from the 29th Aircraft Maintenance Unit. “I want all my guys to come together and be a family.”

This camaraderie would not have existed without the convergence of services and partner nations during RIMPAC 2022. In addition, unmanned and remotely operated vessels extend the capability of interconnected manned platform sensors to enhance the warfighting capacity of multinational joint task forces.

Twenty-six nations, 38 ships, three submarines, more than 170 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 29 to Aug. 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships among participants critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2022 is the 28th exercise in the series that began in 1971.