From Aug. 1 to 11, Joint Base Lewis-McChord hosted Mobility Guardian, the largest mobility exercise in Air Force history. During the exercise, mobility Airmen refined their skills through the execution of 668 training sorties, airlifting 3,676 passengers, 4,911 tons of cargo, and 243 aeromedical evacuation patients, exercising each of Air Mobility Command’s core competencies.
This was accomplished through the hard work of multiple units and thousands of personnel, with months of planning and coordination.
As I consider the lasting effects of the exercise, there is perhaps a more subtle and farther reaching aspect than honing our military skill set. Twenty-five nations merged on McChord Field to learn how to better integrate with the U.S. military and, in-turn, improve their own regional stability by enhancing deterrence, building capacity and ensuring access.
Nations from the Indo-Pacific Region that participated in Mobility Guardian included Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea. Observer nations from the region consisted of Bangladesh, Japan, the Philippines and Thailand.
Participating nations from South America and Europe included Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France and the United Kingdom. Additional observer nations entailed Argentina, Gabon, Germany, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Spain, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates.
The military capabilities represented at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a strategic power projection platform, are a valuable asset when developing relationships with international partners and coalitions such as those who attended the exercise.
We train like we fight, and the inclusion of multiple nations in Mobility Guardian embodied that concept. Participation of our international partners added dozens of air assets and support personnel, bolstering projection of the overall force. Military members from around the world were integrated into key air mobility disciplines like aerial refueling, aeromedical evacuation and mobility support.
They were able to test strategic mobility tactics as well as peacetime humanitarian relief capabilities. The opportunity to train together and develop as a team strengthened our alliances and provides a stabilizing security effect.
We don’t have to look further than the Indo-Pacific Region to see the value of a U.S.-led international military training effort to expand reach and promote stability. Many nations in that region are under constant military and economic stress, and they depend on the United States for security and access to the global commons.
State actors have supplied nuclear technology to North Korea, threatening the U.S. and its allies. Concurrently, territorial claims in the South China Sea highlight a strategic vulnerability at an oceanic choke point, where $5 trillion in world trade flow annually.
The stakes are high, and it takes many nations working together to confront such challenges. While there is still no country on the planet that can match the U.S. military’s rapid global mobility, success requires a robust network of partner nations and intergovernmental agencies.
We can always do it better, and with the help of tactically trained international partners such as those who participated in Mobility Guardian, our reach increases, giving the United States and our allies a stronger base for stability and security.