CC-130J Hercules pilots from 436 Transport Squadron, 8 Wing Trenton fly over Kauai, Hawaii to respond to a simulated mass casualty scenario during RIMPAC 16. MCpl Mathieu Gaudreault, Canadian Forces Combat Camera Photo
In the aftermath of a natural disaster, international cooperation makes all the difference. Multinational exercises, such as Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), provide a unique opportunity for partners to train together to be ready to act.
One of the key training events of RIMPAC 2016 focused on integrating international partners in support of a humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) scenario. For the first time in the history of RIMPAC, one CC-130J Hercules aircraft, its crews, and a coordination element within the coalition headquarters participated as the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) contribution to the HA/DR scenario.
In the simulated scenario, an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale occurred off a fictitious island nation. This earthquake, and the ensuing tsunami, resulted in widespread destruction and severely impeded all transportation infrastructure including ports, roads, and airports.
With its emergency management department overwhelmed by the situation, the government of “Griffon” requested assistance from the international community, which was answered by multiple governments and non-government organizations.
As part of the international response, a coalition military task force involving, amongst others, Japan, USA and Canada was created to support and assist the civilian-led response.
Canada sent a rapid reaction package (RRP) to the affected area within 96 hours of the disaster. The RRP is a small-footprint air task force, which is comprised of a command element, an operational support element, and a mission support element. The team self-deployed onboard a CC-130J Hercules aircraft, which then remained in theatre to provide intra-theatre logistical airlift.
Once set up, this air task force was able to affect command and control in support of additional flying assets such as the CH-147 Chinook and the CH-146 Griffon helicopters.
The CC-130J Hercules and its crews flew multiple missions in support of disaster relief operations, such as transporting relief supplies, extracting wounded troops, and even airlifting casualties to different medical facilities.
The missions were flown in response to requests for assistance originating from many different entities, ranging from coalition military partners to the host nation ministry of health and non-government humanitarian agencies.
The HA/DR scenario proved to be a great training opportunity for the CC-130J, its crews, and all those involved. The seamless integration of the aircraft into the coalition demonstrated the RCAF’s ability to operate this platform efficiently in an international response to a disaster.
Should such an event occur for real, the experiences gained over this year’s RIMPAC will see RCAF CC-130J crews well-prepared to work with Canada’s international partners in order to help those in need.
Held every two years by Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet and executed by Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, RIMPAC is a multinational maritime exercise that takes place in and around the Hawaiian Islands and off the coast of southern California.
This year’s RIMPAC exercise, the 25th in the series that began in 1971, is scheduled from June 30 to August 4. Twenty-six nations, 45 surface ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in this year’s exercise. RIMPAC helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.