Air Mobility Command aircrews participated in the 82nd Airborne
Division's Battalion Mass Tactical Week at Fort Bragg, North
Carolina July 11-15, 2016.
The joint readiness exercise, also
referred to as MASS TAC, illustrated the Mobility Air Force's
ongoing commitment to support the Army and airborne training
requirements at Fort Bragg.
U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III members from Joint Base Lewis-McChord,
W.A., and U.S. Army members from the 82nd Airborne Division conduct
a pre-mission brief before conducting static line drops on Sicily
drop zone during Battalion Mass-Tactical week at Pope Army Airfield,
N.C., July 12, 2016. During mass-tactical week the Army and Air
Force units work together to improve interoperability for worldwide
crisis, contingency and humanitarian operations. (U.S. Air Force
photo by Staff Sgt. Sandra Welch)
During the exercise, U.S. Army paratroopers executed mass
tactical parachute jumps from C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster
III aircraft. This gave both Army and Air Force units the chance to
practice large-scale airdrop missions for personnel and equipment.
It also provided an opportunity to enhance interoperability for
worldwide crisis, contingency and humanitarian response missions.
For AMC's aircrews, the week focused on providing efficient and
productive training for all Army and Air Force personnel involved,
said Lt. Col. William McDonald, who served as mission commander for
In total, six AMC aircraft flying in three-ship
formations made roughly 96 passes over Fort Bragg's Sicily Drop
Zone, airdropping over 4,700 paratroopers, six howitzer artillery
combos, two Humvees and several other pieces of heavy equipment and
cargo, McDonald said.
“We had double the number of aircrews
normally used for this type of exercise.” McDonald said. “This
highlights our commitment to the 82nd Airborne and their mission.”
“We usually only bring one crew per aircraft,” he explained.
“For this exercise we brought two crews per aircraft, which allowed
us to offer an additional three lifts and 1,377 jumpers per day.”
While AMC conducts airdrop exercises each month, this iteration
was unique as participants of MASS TAC were thrown a curveball that
required them to rapidly shift their focus to an Emergency
Deployment Readiness Exercise.
“We are doing some type of airdrop exercise every month,”
McDonald said. “However, this is the first time we have rolled a
BMTW into an EDRE in order to test our ability to plan and the
Army's ability to support a large exercise inside of 96 hours.”
U.S. Army members from the 82nd Airborne Division jump on Sicily
drop zone from a C17 Globemaster III aircraft from Joint Base
Charleston, S.C., during Battalion Mass-Tactical week at Pope Army
Airfield, N.C., July 12, 2016. During mass-tactical week the Army
and Air Force units work together to improve interoperability for
worldwide crisis, contingency and humanitarian operations. (U.S. Air
Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sandra Welch)
Planning for the EDRE began July 12 while MASS TAC was
still underway, and aircraft began launching on July 16,
said Lt. Col. Ben Russo, 18th Air Force deputy chief of
The transition was significant
because it doubled the teams' work and required them to plan
a larger exercise while still running another, which is no
easy feat according to McDonald.
“There is a lot of training that takes
place in the Mission Planning Cell,” he said. “These folks
start planning the exercise days before the crews arrive. It
is a great change for them to work with the Army and gain a
greater understanding of how we, as MAF Airmen, fit into the
bigger operational picture.”
The merging of the two
exercises provided a wealth of experience for teams in the
Mission Planning Cell and aircrews alike, but the
relationship building is the most important aspect from
“The biggest thing is that it
helps us make connections with people we will be working
with for a real-world event,” he said. “Having those
contacts to reach out to makes a huge difference.”
“Learning how the other services think and communicate
really helps us understand what's important for their
mission and ensures that we provide the best support
available,” McDonald concluded.
Each of these
exercises represent a touchstone for Air Mobility Command.
By training as a cohesively integrated global response
force, mobility forces are better prepared to provide
combatant commanders with the critical options necessary to
respond to rapidly evolving international crises.
More Photos Associated With This Article
By U.S. Air Force Jodi Ames, AMC
Comment on this article