March 6, 2012 (by SrA Jessica Hines) - Not even the sun had a chance to rise before Airmen here began their work during a combined combat generation exercise, March 2, between United States and Republic of Korea air forces.
F-16s from the 35th and 80th FS, Kunsan AB; the 421st FS, Hill AFB; the 55th FS from Shaw AFB and from the 38th FG RoKAF, demonstrate an 'Elephant Walk' as they taxi down a runway during an exercise at Kunsan AB on March 2nd, 2012. [USAF photo by SrA. Brittany Y. Auld]
"The purpose of the exercise today is to test the ability of our team to execute our combat mission at a moment's notice," said Col. Craig Leavitt, 8th Operations Group commander.
"This shows the resolve that we have as a team, the United States and the Republic of Korea forces, to defend the Republic of Korea at any time," he added.
From start to finish, aircraft were generated as they would be for wartime operations. The exercise helps Airmen practice how several pieces of a much larger puzzle are brought together in one swift motion, representing a cycle of events paramount to the overall defense of the region.
Describing it as a "bilateral event," Col. Stephen Williams, 8th Fighter Wing vice commander, noted the long hours spent behind the scenes that produced the combat air power seen between the five units. In all, the exercise included aircraft from the 35th and 80th Fighter Squadrons from the 8th Fighter Wing, Kunsan Air Base, ROK; the 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from the 388th FW at Hill Air Force Base, Utah; the 55th EFS from the 20th FW at Shaw AFB
, S.C.; and the 38th Fighter Group of the ROK Air Force.
"Airmen from all the groups are participating - the entire Wolf Pack - and they don't always get to see the tail end of this," said Williams.
A befitting finale, the "tail end" event was ushered in by the roaring sound of fighter jets as they glided down the runway as a combat-ready procession.
This isn't the first time the Wolf Pack has exercised full combat generation, and certainly isn't the last, but working with host country air power defenses has brought a more personal association to the importance of the exercise.
"This is their [Koreans] homeland," said Williams, reminding Airmen that the Wolf Pack is part of a vested interest in defending the Republic of Korea from enemy forces.
"The more we work together, the better we'll be if called upon to take the fight north," said Williams.