August 11, 2017 (by TSgt. Jodi Martinez) - The C-130 Hercules aircraft of Mobility Guardian traveled more than 25,000 miles from six different countries across the globe to participate in the two-week exercise here July 31 to August 12, 2017.
PAF Wing Commander Raja Durraab is one of the C-130 Hercules pilots during Mobility Guardian, Joint Base Lewis-McChord August 11, 2017. [USAF photo by SSgt. Jodi Martinez]
This distance, stretching farther than that of the earth's equator, funneled C-130 aircraft from Belgium, Canada, New Zealand, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, and the U.S. into a single interoperable playing field where tactics, techniques, and procedures were shared amongst allied nations.
"What makes the C-130 unique is its capability to go anywhere at any time," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Mike Sadler, 41st Airlift Squadron C-130J pilot from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. "It can literally land in a really tight spot and take off from any place with any type of cargo you can put in there for any kind of humanitarian relief."
The C-130 is capable of conducting medical evacuation, humanitarian, aerial spray, firefighting, night, arctic, personnel drop and cargo drop missions. Because the C-130 is so versatile and small enough to go where other aircraft can't, it supports more missions than any other aircraft in the sky.
"The C-130 goes well into any logistic system," said Belgium air force Capt. Koen Matton, C-130 pilot. "The C-130 is unique because it's a highly versatile aircraft, and that's why it's been going around for over 50 years."
The C-130, owned by 63 different countries, also allows nations to work together more seamlessly in integrated environments, proving vital in real-world scenarios.
"I've flown five missions [during Mobility Guardian] with a crew that I'm likely to deploy with next year," said New Zealand air force Flight Lieutenant Kendall Dooley, C-130 pilot. "It's given us a chance to work on our crew resource management, work better as a team, and integrate with other countries to see how they operate. In the middle east everything we do is part of a coalition so it's important to interact and understand how nations work."
For Wing Commander Raja Durraab, Pakistani air force C-130 navigator, future conflicts will require more interoperability.
"Most of the time you are operating in the real-world you are operating as a nation, but in future real-world scenarios, we have to operate as a team," said Durraab. "We must understand each other's capabilities and limitations. Even communication is one of the biggest challenges, but we have to overcome these things to move forward."
Mobility Guardian offered a platform for the different countries to begin moving forward by integrating different scenarios, including hot defueling, wet-wing defueling, advanced cargo drops, personnel drops, aeromedical evacuation, and formation flying.
"The C-130 is largely proliferated across the globe," said Sadler, and he stressed that the C-130 presence at Mobility Guardian creates a force multiplier and enhances the global response force.
"Having that opportunity to mix, deconflict, and learn about each other's strengths and weaknesses so that we can go forward together is valuable," said Sadler." "This will help us later on should anything happen when we need to operate in a real-life scenario and get the mission done – whatever that might be."