JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — The 374th Airlift Wing from Yokota Air Base, Japan, provided airlift support for Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Capability (JPMRC) exercise from March 21 to April 2, and successfully conducted multiple joint exercises with the U.S. Army and Royal Canadian Air Force out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
The JPMRC is a training exercise that aims to enhance the interoperability between U.S. joint services and allies by fielding realistic training scenarios in freezing arctic conditions.
The 374th AW role consisted of transporting military personnel, heavy equipment, and conducting low cost low altitude (LCLA) air drops to aid other units.
“Yokota provided airlift and airdrop capabilities to the U.S Army Second Brigade,” said Capt. Brett Madrigal, 5th Battlefield Coordination Detachment ground liaison officer. “This allowed them to conduct Joint Forcible Entry operations and sustainment drops throughout the exercise. The battalions have been training for this, it is essentially their ‘superbowl moment’ for the opportunity to conduct a large-scale combat operation and practice in an arctic environment.”
Throughout the duration of the exercise, paratroopers from the U.S., Canada, Italy, and Australia conducted routine parachute jumps. This gave plenty of opportunities for loadmasters to practice their procedures when assisting military personnel for static-line jumps.
“This year, we did a lot of personnel drops and simulated a JFE where we dropped about 1,000 U.S. paratroopers, ” said Capt. Christian Fontaine, 36th Airlift Squadron chief of training. “The cold weather and mountain flying here is not as abundant at home station, so it's an opportunity for our crew to get accustomed to operating in an arctic environment.”
Yokota personnel also aided the U.S. Army transport and deployed their M142 High Mobility Rocket Systems (HIMARS) from their C-130J Super Hercules aircraft.
“HIMARS can fit into our aircraft, but only narrowly, and it's heavy,” said Fontaine. “We also practiced HIMARS rapid insertion, which is where we land in different forward locations, they receive targeting data, shoot their targets, and roll back into the aircraft.”
The JPMRC exercise allowed multiple avenues to improve readiness, but all exercises are considered essential to accomplishing the 374 AW global airlift mission.
“We helped to familiarize the Royal Canadian Air Force with LCLA airdrop capabilities,” said Fontaine “We learned from them too and found better ways to rig bundles. Doing these LCLAs with them will help them be more equipped to participate in future iterations of Operation Christmas Drop, our annual humanitarian airlift operation.”
JPMRC served as a valuable learning experience as it required finding common ground and understanding limitations between partners. The exercise allowed individuals to develop skills in rare circumstances and navigate diverse perspectives to ultimately identify optimal solutions across all military branches.
“My favorite part about the JPMRC exercise is being able to work with our Air Force and Army counterparts,” said Fontaine. “Coming out here, we really learn what the joint common denominator is, and what our international partners operate with so when an unknown situation comes up. We're more ready to respond to it because we've identified all the unknowns that we can control.”