Cope Angel strengthens alliances on mainland Japan

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

Team Misawa and Japan Air Self-Defense Force members executed exercise Cope Angel 17 side-by-side at Draughon Range and Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 9, for the first time on the country's mainland.

CA17 is an annual bilateral event between the JASDF, known as the Koku-Jieitai, and U.S. Air Force in order to fortify interoperability between Team Misawa and the Koku-Jieitai pararescuemen. This allows for the development of exceptional Koku-Jieitai and USAF unit leaders to head the world’s most powerful teams in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

“It’s really important we perform trainings like Cope Angel 17 to assess our capabilities to work with the JASDF,” said Capt. Phillip McCoy, a 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot. “It’s very possible they could be the rescue asset for our pilots because if something were to happen and there is a life-threatening situation, time is critical, especially with the extreme weather we can get here in Misawa.”

In the past, the Koku-Jieitai Okinawa Prefecture Rescue Squadron and members from Kadena Air Base, Japan, conducted the exercise on the island of Okinawa. This year, Team Misawa worked with the Koku-Jieitai Akita Prefecture Rescue Squadron pararescuemen and their UH-60J Black Hawk to train contingencies.

“This training allows us to strengthen alliances and give CA17 a better exercise environment while enhancing our unit-to-unit coordination with Koku-Jieitai,” said Master Sgt. Reid Beveridge, the 35th Operations Support Squadron superintendent and CA17 overlord.

With the exercise held on mainland Japan, it gave the APRS the opportunity to heighten their rescue procedures and overcome language barriers with U.S. personnel so they can respond to situations fluidly in the future.

“The language barrier was the biggest issue, but it will continually improve during exercises like this,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Dylan Gorr, a 35th Medical Support Squadron emergency medical technician. “The opportunity to execute search and rescue exercises is rare in Misawa and it is a great opportunity to hone our skills alongside Koku-Jieitai.”

The scenario started out when an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot simulated ejection at Draughon Range. The downed pilot used his survival training, ensuring his safety and stabilizing the situation. Once the scene cleared, he initiated rescue efforts by sending coordinates and waited for a recovery team.

“The coordination was a big piece we wanted to focus on in this exercise,” Beveridge said. “How we get the right people, like the military decision makers and tasking authorities, to approve the rescue before it takes off.”

Beveridge added the goal of the exercise was to initiate, retrieve and transport the individual to the 35th Medical Group where they would simulate treatment.

After working with the APRS, the Koku-Jieitai pararescue team said they want to make the CA17 exercise an annual event for mainland Japan in addition to Okinawa.

“Our pilots are the tip of the spear,” Beveridge said “Our whole wing exists so our pilots can take off, ‘fight tonight’ and defend the U.S. and its allies. Our personnel recovery mission gives them the confidence to go out there and fight even if an incident like this were to happen.”