TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
Airmen from the 513th Air Control Group and 552nd Air
Control Wing recently returned to Tinker Air Force Base after flying more than
110 flight hours and controlling 83 aircraft as part the world’s largest naval
This year marks the fourth Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC,
exercise for the 513th and the first time that the active-duty associate unit
deployed alongside, bringing a detachment of operations and maintenance Airmen.
Planning for the exercise, which involved 22 countries and more than 200
aircraft, began even before the last RIMPAC came to a close.
“RIMPAC 2016 started more than two years ago for the
513th,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Williams, the 513th RIMPAC detachment commander.
“Bridges were built, conferences were attended, and plans were forged. Many
people, including myself, put countless hours into ensuring this would be an
exercise many would talk about for years.”
Not only did the exercise give aircrews the chance to work
closely with U.S. and Canadian fighter aircraft, the active duty and reserve
Airmen also worked closely with Canadian and Australian agencies to ensure
effective and safe scenarios.
For Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Gibb, the 513th’s aviation
resource management superintendent, the exercise environment provided a better
training opportunity than working back at Tinker.
“Bringing one of my newer Airmen and allowing him to work
in a deployed type of atmosphere was very beneficial,” Sergeant Gibb said. “I
believe that we grew in our confidence in getting the job done right, despite
having a hectic environment and numerous changes to the schedule. RIMPAC was a great
opportunity to show what we can accomplish in less than ideal conditions.”
One of the intangible benefits for the Airmen deployed to
support RIMPAC was the partnerships formed, Sergeant Gibb added.
“I would say, as with any TDY that the 513th does, the
best part is the relationships that are built,” he said. “Working, and playing,
with people outside of their normal offices and environments is great. We work
hard, accomplish the mission, and then we make time to hang out off-duty.”
The hard work paid off during the AWACS’ 15 days of flight
operations; the only cancelled mission was due to a tropical storm that dumped
nearly a foot of rain on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam according to local news
“From start to finish, the battle rhythm was fierce,
losing only one sortie to Tropical Storm Darby,” Colonel Williams said. “The
total maintenance and operations effort was something every exercise should
strive to mirror. People like Staff Sgt. Austin Paisley with the 552nd Aircraft
Maintenance Squadron, Staff Sgt. Kyle Walker from the 513th Aircraft
Maintenance Squadron, Maj. Larry Jackson and Maj. Anne Ridlon from the 970th
Airborne Air Control Squadron really cemented the operation and were
instrumental in what I would call an epic RIMPAC 2016 exercise.”
Bringing active-duty Airmen from the 552nd to the Pacific
island benefitted the exercise commanders as well as providing a deployed total
force integration environment, according to Colonel Williams.
“Having the 552nd join us for an exercise of this
magnitude allowed both sides to view how the other does business,” he said. “By
having two aircraft on the ramp, we were able to provide the combined air
forces commander with continuous operations, from our arrival to the end of the