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ANG, ROKAF and JASDF meet in Alaska

ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Col. Greg Nelson, Cooperative Cope Thunder/Red Flag Alaska?s Air Expeditionary Group commander (center), Col. Jeongkyu Woo, commander from the Republic of Korea Air Force (left), and Col. Mutsumi Fukushima, commander from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (right), exchange background information and discuss the significance of Cooperative Cope Thunder during a meeting. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Garrett Hothan)(RELEASED)

ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Col. Greg Nelson, Cooperative Cope Thunder/Red Flag Alaska?s Air Expeditionary Group commander (center), Col. Jeongkyu Woo, commander from the Republic of Korea Air Force (left), and Col. Mutsumi Fukushima, commander from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (right), exchange background information and discuss the significance of Cooperative Cope Thunder during a meeting. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Garrett Hothan)(RELEASED)

ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Cooperative Cope Thunder/Red Flag Alaska 06-3 is in full swing with the flying scenarios well underway. Alaska is gaining a reputation among world leaders as the ideal place for coalition building and joint combined training.

Colonel Greg Nelson, CCT/RF's Air Expeditionary Group commander hosted an informal meeting with Col. Jeongkyu Woo, commander from the Republic of Korea Air Force, and Col. Mutsumi Fukushima, commander from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force. During the meeting the commanders exchanged background information and discussed the significance of CCT.

"Our guardsmen are here primarily to provide command support for all participants at Elmendorf," said Colonel Nelson, in reference to over 30 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen here for CCT. "It is great to contribute to the overall cooperative engagement strategy of CCT - to train together as we would fight," he said.

"Alaska offers a realistic wartime training environment to combine with other forces and nations to show interoperability," said the ROKAF colonel. This is Colonel Woo's first time participating in CCT, but the ROKAF has sent forces to the exercise since 2001.

"We brought a team of about 30 Koreans to Alaska along with a C-130 tactical transporter. In addition to our C-130, maintenance personnel and our combat control team, we brought F-15K pilots as observers this year," he said.

The Korean colonel further expressed that as ROKAF integrates the F-15K fighters into their inventory, they hope to bring their new weapon system to participate in future CCT/RF exercises. He said that he hopes to learn more about mission planning and how to execute a multi-national coalition exercise. "We're really enjoying the weather, the clear visibility and the fresh air. Alaska is beautiful and the support from our U.S. host unit here is great."

About 200 JASDF forces, under the direction of Colonel Fukushima deployed with a squadron of F-15Js, an E-767 AWACS, Ground Control Intercept controllers, and Stingers to Alaska and are participating in fighter exercises out of both Eielson and Elmendorf Air Force bases. The JASDF is returning for the fourth year to CCT to participate with the U.S. and other nations in defense counter air missions as a bi-lateral partner.

At the close of the meeting, the ANG, ROKAF and JASDF colonels agreed that the vast air space available in Alaska make this a premier location for multi-national and large force air power employment training. They also, agreed that one of the ultimate benefits of this exercise is the lasting friendships forged.