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Joint exercise hones capabilities for real-world missions

by Staff. Sgt John Ayre
615th Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

7/13/2011 - MACKALL ARMY AIRFIELD, N.C. (AFNS) -- Soldiers and Airmen teamed up in a simulated deployed environment at Mackall Army Airfield approximately ten miles south of Pinehurst, N.C., in support of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division's joint operational access exercise from June 23 to 27.

More than 100 Airmen from the 615th Contingency Response Wing traveled to the site bringing their expertise establishing a joint task force-port opening, or JTF-PO. The Airmen partnered with more than 50 Soldiers from the 689th Rapid Port Opening Element, Fort Eustis, Va., to sharpen their skills in airfield operations, aircraft on- and off-load, integrated airbase defense and to establish a distribution node for cargo and supplies.

"This exercise provides the opportunity to train with key personnel from the Army's Arrival/Departure Airfield Control Group," said Capt. Chris Keller, from the 570th Contingency Response Squadron. "It builds a positive and professional rapport with Army stakeholders."

The ever-present hum of aircraft established an atmosphere of mobility on the airfield, with service members loading and unloading pallets, parachuting troops drifting overhead and aircrews arriving and departing during the continuous 24-hour operations throughout the exercise. C-17 Globemaster IIIs and C-130 Hercules from active-duty, National Guard and Air Force Reserve components filled the sky. Nearly 60 aircraft on- and off-loaded more than 1,300 tons of passengers and cargo.

"In relation to the Joint Operational Access Mission, this is the way of the future for the 82nd Airborne Division in how they do business," said Lt. Col. John M. Broomhead, the 11th Transportation Battalion commander. "Joint operations is the only way to accomplish this mission."

The exercise highlighted the U.S. military's capability to team up Soldiers and Airmen to move personnel and equipment into the area of responsibility.

"Hopefully, it builds confidence in sister service users that the mobility air forces can be trusted to keep our promises," Keller said.

Joint operations at Mackall Army Airfield included Soldiers from the 11th Transportation Battalion, Fort Story, Va., 3rd Brigade Combat Team assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division and the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Fort Knox, Ky.

Part of the 615th CRW's mission is to establish airfield operations for the delivery of supplies, equipment or personnel into the heart of the operation. The wing's team of experts worked around the clock and ensured smooth delivery.

"The 615th Contingency Response Wing and 11th Transportation Battalion make an excellent joint team to support the 82nd (Airborne Divison) in a global response force mission," Broomhead said.

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