21st AS leads first C-17 unit-level exercise in the U.S. Indo-Pacific AOR

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Karla Parra
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Airmen from the 21st Airlift Squadron stationed at Travis Air Force Base, California, led Exercise Golden Bee, the first C-17 Globemaster III unit-level tactical training exercise in the U.S. Indo-Pacific area of responsibility, Sept. 24-27.

U.S. service members from the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy planned and coordinated an event designed to test their abilities to execute mission type orders, demonstrate full-spectrum readiness, exercise Agile Combat Employment concepts, and sustain contingency operations in a high-intensity, contested, degraded and operationally limited environment.

“This exercise helps prove our ability to conduct operations in a highly contested environment over long distances to enable freedom of maneuvers for joint partners,” said Lt. Col. William Street, 21st Airlift Squadron commander. “It provides us the opportunity to become more familiar with the geography and other challenges to the INDOPACOM area of responsibility.”

C-17 aircrew participants included personnel from the 21st AS, Travis AFB, California, 3rd AS, Dover AFB, Delaware, 4th AS, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, 517th AS, JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and 535 AS Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Units provided a wide range of personnel to include maintenance and operational support, as well as instructor pilots and loadmasters to help execute the overall scenario.

“C-17 training is often times solely based on simulations,” said Capt. Treavor Arias, 3rd AS C-17 Globemaster III pilot. “So, for us to actually come into theater, get a real user, as we call them, whether that be the Army 25th Infantry Division [or 17 Filed Artillery Brigade] with the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System or the Navy, it was a great opportunity for us to flex and actually get on the same page, work on those communication skills and establish what are the actual bare minimums for us to accomplish the mission.”

To mimic real-world scenarios, the crews transported both equipment and personnel with the 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii and 17th Field Artillery Brigade, JB Lewis-McChord, Washington, where their focus was on small-unit tactics and dynamic force employment within the Indo-Pacific AOR on condensed timelines.

“Specifically for this exercise, the Army and the Air Force really worked together strengthening our warfighting capabilities,” said U.S. Army Capt. Chad Adams, 25 ID Alpha company commander. “We were able to leverage each other to deploy [across the Indo-Pacific region], so it’s amazing to have the Air Force’s support.”

“We are grateful for such a strong partnership with our joint partners from the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Their participation demonstrates our common focus on the principles of joint warfighting and the synergistic effects we can create when working together as one joint team.”Lt. Col. William Street, 21st Airlift Squadron commander

Additional support was also provided to the 60th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, stationed at Travis AFB, California. Participants from the squadron used this opportunity to train in high-intensity contested areas during strategic and tactical airlift operations.

While on board the C-17A aircraft, 25 ID soldiers participated in emergency AE rehearsals providing AE Airmen additional unique training. Furthermore, Airmen from the Travis AFB Fire Department and Logistics Readiness Squadron augmented Andersen’s capabilities to support the exercise, and train PACAF personnel on mobility platforms.


Meanwhile, aircrew were challenged to think critically, react, and engage problems presented by simulated peer adversaries. This provided C-17 crewmembers the opportunity to rehearse tactics, techniques and procedures in a decentralized operational environment. This type of exercise presents Air Force mobility personnel with the opportunities to enable joint force employment.

“We are grateful for such a strong partnership with our joint partners from the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps,” said Street. “Their participation demonstrates our common focus on the principles of joint warfighting and the synergistic effects we can create when working together as one joint team.”

The need to advance full spectrum readiness in the Indo-Pacific Command comes after Gen. Mike Minihan, Air Mobility Command commander, met with Pacific Air Forces and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command leadership earlier this June to discuss a roadmap to prepare Mobility Air Forces for Agile Combat Employment in the Indo-Pacific Theater.