OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
The combat search and rescue exercise, Exercise Pacific Thunder 15-02, came to a close Oct. 23 after nearly two full weeks of constant training.
Exercise Pacific Thunder brought together U.S. forces from the Air Force, Marines, and units from the Republic of Korea air force to practice air combat and CSAR by focusing on enhancing interoperability and combat readiness of the military alliance across the Korean Peninsula.
"This exercise helps us bring together assets who would be involved and integrated into a real world CSAR mission," said Capt. Jerrod Dillon, 25th Fighter Squadron flight safety officer. "It also gives U.S. forces a chance to integrate and execute with our ROKAF counterparts, further building the combined force proficiency and readiness, while simultaneously improving relations between our two militaries."
Pacific Thunder is a total-process exercise, encompassing nearly all aspects of communication, coordination, command and control, mission planning, and execution.
"By taking take a look at current tactics and procedures, practicing and refining those, and then exercising the system as realistically as possible we are able to provide a world-class training opportunity to everyone involved," said Dillon. "We are getting realistic training that's in line with how we would fight."
More than 10 different organizations and squadrons came together to participate in Pacific Thunder this year.
"In size and scope, it's rapidly approaching large-force-exercise levels, but I think it's unique in that it's primarily planned and executed on a squadron or tactical level," said Dillon. "What we do locally during these missions directly impacts the big Air Force mission. The knowledge and experience gained while participating in this exercise is spread throughout the rest of the Air Force as people move on from Korea, carrying that knowledge with them."
Working closely with all players on a bi-annual basis builds individual proficiency and increases the total-force capability of all participants, continued Dillon.
"I'm excited to be a part of this exercise, especially since we are working closely with the Korean air force," said Senior Airman Jacob Ricker, 718th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief from Kadena Air Base, Japan.
Pacific Thunder highlights the longstanding military partnership, commitment and enduring friendship between the two nations. It helps ensure peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
"It's all about the CSAR," said Dillon. "Aircraft can be replaced but it's much harder to replace the pilot who could have many years of training and experience. This exercise ensures we are ready to do the CSAR mission whenever called upon."