Air Force turns exercise into real humanitarian relief mission
23 February 2014
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has switched from training to reality to answer a US call for help to move supplies to the island of Rota in the Northern Mariana Islands.
Last week the Governor of the US Territory of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands issued an Executive Order declaring a 'State of Significant Emergency on Rota' due to the shortage of food and other goods after dangerous weather conditions made the island's harbour temporarily inaccessible.
Fortunately, on the nearby island of Guam (also a US Territory), the US Air Force is conducting the multinational exercise Cope North, which includes a significant Humanitarian and Disaster Relief scenario.
The US Air Force quickly called on participating countries to divert their transport aircraft from exercise to reality and add their aircraft to the flotilla that will answer the Governor’s call for food and supplies.
As a sign of allied solidarity the RAAF has contributed its C-130J Hercules transport aircraft that was assigned to the exercise.
Director General Air Command Operations Air Commodore Gavin Turnbull, said the contribution of the RAAF Hercules aircraft demonstrated the flexibility of the RAAF’s transport fleet.
“To be able to move quickly from exercise to reality reflects the level of training we give our people,” he said.
“It is also an honour to work alongside our US and regional allies on missions such as this.
“By demonstrating we can cooperate at short notice and provide assistance to the people of Rota brings a great deal of satisfaction to our people.
“It also highlights the importance of the international relationships we have fostered for decades in the region,” he said.
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