News: Gunfighters participate in RIMPAC, forge partnerships across the globe
Story by Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- The Rim of the Pacific biennial maritime security exercise is a multinational training opportunity taking place in and around the Hawaiian Islands.
This year's RIMPAC exercise, the 24th in the series beginning in 1971, started June 26 and is scheduled to end August 1.
Multiple units are taking part in order to foster and sustain the cooperative relationships critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans.
Airmen from the 366th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 391st Fighter Squadron have combined as the 391st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron to participate in the exercise.
"We are the first F-15E Strike Eagle unit to ever participate in the RIMPAC exercise," said Master Sgt. Gene Paciotti, 391st EFS production superintendent. "We are extremely excited and motivated to play a part in such a world renowned exercise."
The Airmen join more than 20 nations, including Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Tonga, Brunei and the People's Republic of China, which marks the country's first time participating in RIMPAC. Participating nations are conducting training above and on-land, as well as at sea, in a coalition and joint exercise environment.
"Our objective in this exercise has been to integrate our operations with other types of fighters from the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Canadian Air Force in a variety of mission sets," said Maj. Cale Marthens, 391st EFS assistant director of operations. "We bring air-to-air firepower and air-to-ground strike capability, wherever and whenever the Combined Forces Air Component commander needs it."
Along with personnel, there are 49 surface vessels, six submarines and more than 200 aircraft participating this year.
"This year's participation in RIMPAC is a visible step toward growing the Air Force's presence in the area," said Marthens. "As part of the Department of Defense's stated goal of pivoting to the Pacific, our primary goal is to safely and effectively execute our squadron's missions while integrating with other aircraft from sister services and coalition nations."
The 391st EFS Airmen are flying 14 sorties daily, keeping maintenance personnel extremely busy on the ground.
"As maintainers, our objective is to show the 23 participating countries why, in my opinion, the F-15E Strike Eagle is the most feared aircraft on the planet," said Paciotti. "In order for us to do that, we must safely execute and deliver precise, disciplined maintenance day and night. We are proud of our ability to do it anytime, anywhere; with precision...it's the Bold Tiger standard."
Representing not only the USAF, but MHAFB as well, Airmen find this type of exercise a great way to show participating countries and the U.S. Navy, a base in Idaho produces professional, world-class airpower and maintenance.
"We have accomplished our goals thanks to the hard work of all the deployed Gunfighters," said Marthens. "We are proud to be participating and fly air-to-air and maritime missions with our coalition partners."