RAAF Sends Contingent to Northern Mariana Islands for Exercise Cope North 24

In a strategic move, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) dispatched the 383 Contingency Response Squadron (383CRS) to Tinian in the Northern Mariana Islands to participate in Exercise Cope North 24.

During this multinational exercise, RAAF personnel collaborated closely with counterparts from the US, Canada, and Japan to enhance the integration of their respective capabilities.

Flying Officer Natasha Willett highlighted the squadron’s role in facilitating airbase operations for various military branches, including the RAAF, US Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. The 383CRS showcased its flexibility as an expeditionary force, delivering essential support.

“Our contingent on Tinian consisted of diverse elements such as command and control, security forces, health services, air movements, logistics, airfield engineering, and communications,” remarked Flying Officer Willett. “Working alongside allied counterparts has been an enriching experience, allowing us to conduct agile operations seamlessly.”

Exercise Cope North 24 saw the collaboration of 383CRS with counterparts from the US Air Force’s 36th Contingency Response Squadron and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (Koku-Jieitai). Together, they established fully operational airfields on Tinian within short timeframes, fostering flexibility and deeper integration.

Lieutenant Colonel Steve Smith, Commander of the 36th Contingency Response Squadron, emphasized the shared objective of learning, procedural development, and interoperability enhancement.

“A contingency response squadron comprises various elements focused on establishing an airbase for aircraft operations, maintenance, and support,” explained Lieutenant Colonel Smith. “Our self-sufficient deployment capability ensures operational continuity without the need for external resupply.”

Approximately 200 Australian personnel participated in Exercise Cope North 24 from February 5 to 23, offering aviators a platform to refine their skills in a dynamic environment.

The exercise centered on trilateral combined command structures, with key roles held by the Koku-Jieitai, USAF, and RAAF, facilitating the development of common procedures and protocols.

Embedded within 383CRS was USAF Technical Sergeant Matthew Lothrop, overseeing runway safety operations at Tinian North. His responsibilities included coordinating aircraft movements, airspace management, and collaborating with allied teams to ensure operational safety.

“We engaged in cross-training activities with RAAF counterparts, gaining insights into each other’s operational methods and safety protocols,” noted Sergeant Lothrop.

Amidst challenging scenarios, the Contingency Response Squadron conducted various exercises, including mass casualty response, aeromedical evacuations, airbase recovery, and close combat protection drills, fostering collaboration and problem-solving within the multinational coalition force.

Exercise Cope North 24 provided a valuable opportunity for the participating forces to integrate, address challenges collectively, and refine their tactical approaches.


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