Aircraftman Eugene Ramos has swapped a desk job to field exercise to support a major humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activity for the annual trilateral exercise, Cope North.

In response to a natural disaster scenario, the Multinational Task Force Headquarters (MNTF HQ) was established at Andersen Air Force Base to integrate, plan and execute a Contingency Response Squadron (CRS) for the islands north of Guam.

On his first exercise since joining the Royal Australian Air Force in 2019, the enthusiastic 19-year-old has enjoyed getting his hands dirty and working with an international team.

“The CRS team is made up of specialist from all three nations, Australia, US and Japan,” Aircraftman Ramos said.

“This includes airfield engineering, logistics, security, intelligence, communications, health and a robust command and control structure. 

“During the planning phase, I was helping to organise our packs, make sure all the gear and equipment is in order, ready to go.

“We arrived on a United States Air Force C-130 into Tinian and got straight to work setting up the Air Point of Disembarkation Base near Baker Airfield.

“Essentially, this base will support air operations to deliver people and aid to the region post natural disaster.”

In his day job, the No. 381 Squadron Personnel Capability Specialist's role would focus on administrative duties but participating in an exercise such as Cope North, provides the opportunity to expand his knowledge and skills on international engagement in the region.

Back in Australia, No. 381 Squadron is one of three RAAF Contingency Response Squadrons responsible for providing a scalable airbase operational capability for the Australian Government.

“Deploying overseas on a major exercise has really opened up my eyes to how we, the military, support real time disasters,” Aircraftman Ramos said.

“While we are deployed to Tinian, we will be exposed to real-time scenarios to test our response and enhance trilateral training.

“I never dreamed as a PCS that I would be on ground doing work like this, it’s been an awesome experience!"

Back in high school, Aircraftman Ramos developed a five-step plan for his career with one being to join the Australian Defence Force Gap Year Program. 

“I loved being part of the military and chose to transfer to the Permanent Air Force,” he said.

“It’s been a great start to my Air Force career, my first posting and first exercise has provided a great foundation for many years to come.”

Due to the continual demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support in the Pacific Region, these 'joint' exercises are increasingly important in understanding complementary capabilities of participating nations.

The relationships built and sustained with multinational partners in the Indo-Pacific region through exercises, civil military operations and military exchanges help tremendously in humanitarian efforts and in preserving peace and stability in the region.