Squadron Leader Rhys Evans is leading the New Zealand Defence Force detachment to Exercise Mobility Guardian 17.
28 July 2017
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has sent a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) aircraft and Air Force and New Zealand Army personnel to a large exercise in the United States practising Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Recovery (HADR) in a potentially hostile environment.
The exercise, Mobility Guardian 17, brings together 18 nations near Seattle, Washington, to practise operating together to provide large-scale air mobility.
“Taking part in exercises such as this ensures we are ready to operate in this kind of scenario whenever the need arises,” Air Component Commander Air Commodore Darryn Webb said.
“This is interoperability at the highest level, and allows us to benchmark ourselves against our partners and allies.”
Leading the 60-strong detachment is Squadron Leader Rhys Evans, who is looking forward to the challenges of operating out of the fourth-largest military complex in the world at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
“We will be a cog in a very large machine, but the fact that the exercise planners asked for our aviation refuellers and Air Load Team to come along shows how our contributions are valued,” Squadron Leader Evans said.
The number of aircraft movements and loads being delivered was so large that resources would be stretched to the limit, and NZDF personnel would be vital to keep the exercise on schedule, he said.
In addition to the C-130 Hercules aircraft and personnel from No. 40 Squadron, the NZDF team will include RNZAF aero-medical evacuation experts and personnel from the Army’s 5 Movements Company.
The exercise would be a unique opportunity to work alongside forces from Belgium, Brazil, and Pakistan, as well as New Zealand’s more traditional partners, Squadron Leader Evans said.
“The skills used in HADR tasks can be transferred across a wide range of the operations we are called on to conduct, in theatres all around the globe.”
The exercise runs from 30 July to 12 August.