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NEWS | Aug. 27, 2019

Air Force supports Army during joint BMTW exercise

By Senior Airman Cody R. Miller Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Airmen from Joint Base Charleston, S.C. and Little Rock Air Force Base, A.D. were sent to Pope Army Airfield, N.C. in support of Battalion Mass Tactical Week, Aug. 18-23, 2019.

BMTW is a joint exercise involving the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army designed to enhance servicemembers’ abilities by practicing contingency operations in a controlled environment. The exercise incorporated three C-130J Super Hercules assigned to Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., and three C-17 Globemaster IIIs assigned to Joint Base Charleston, S.C. and Army paratroopers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division of Fort Bragg, N.C. The exercise allowed all parties to quickly complete training tasks, such as personnel drops and cargo air drops, to better prepare joint forces to operate during global mobility missions.

“We do these types of exercises quarterly throughout the year,” said Lt. Col. Justin Warnaar, the 437th Operations Support Group director of operations and air mission commander for BMTW. “The goal of the BMTW is to have a joint collaboration between the Air Force and the Army. We want not just C-17s, but also other airframes to take part in the same formations to support the Army in whatever their specific scheme of maneuvers may entail. This is a great training opportunity for airlift loadmasters and pilots to see and understand Army procedures, tactics and how they’re organized.”

Starting in 1917, the 82nd Airborne Division’s mission has evolved to strategically deploy, conduct forcible entry parachute assault and secure key objectives in support of U.S. national interests within 18 hours of notification. However, without the help of transport aircraft, the 82nd Airborne wouldn’t be able to execute this mission and get where they need to go. Air Force assets like the C-130J and C-17 allow for soldiers to safely get to their drop points and complete the mission.

While working with the 82nd Airborne Soldiers, Airmen were able to complete training tasks with a focus on joint operations, readiness and interagency operability.

“Any type of repetition to help us stay proficient and current helps aircrew,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Hampton, a loadmaster assigned to the 16th Airlift Squadron. “We could be deployed in a matter of weeks or days so training like this really helps us prepare for anything we might face while in a deployed environment. Coming out to work with Army is great because we get to learn their way of doing things and how to work in a joint environment.”

BMTW implemented a mixed formation with the C-130Js and C-17s to target small drop zones in a restricted and austere environment, challenging the expertise of the mission planners and those executing the mission. Despite challenges of weather, timelines and effective communication, participants continued to be flexible and resilient to successfully complete BMTW.

“A mission is only as good as the plan that’s been developed for it,” said Warnaar. “The planners that have worked here to learn both Army and Air Force terminology and understand how both branches communicate have greatly enhanced our ability to get us to that next level of training and execution.”

Exercises like BMTW are held regularly to keep Airmen current and up-to-date on current joint tactics. This specific BMTW was to prepare participants for the upcoming Exercise Mobility Guardian 2019, Air Mobility Command’s premier, large-scale mobility exercise. Mobility Guardian is scheduled to take place Sept. 8 – 28 and provides a realistic training environment for more than 2,500 Airmen to hone their skills with joint and international partners and keep a competitive edge in future conflicts.