Reserve loadmaster participates in multinational mobility exercise

  • Published
  • By Jeremy Larlee
  • 512th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

A C-17 Globemaster III loadmaster from the 326th Airlift Squadron participated in the multinational exercise Mobility Guardian 23, July 5-21.

Master Sgt. Patrick Burk leaned on his 20 years of experience during the 16-day readiness training event. He served in an observer-coach-trainer role.

“We flew on various flights observing what the flight crews were doing,” he said. “We also submitted reports at the end of the day. Higher-level leadership could use those reports to get a detailed view of what happened that day.”

The exercise covered a large scope this year, said Maj. William Wilkerson, chief of tactics for the 512th Operations Support Squadron.

“Historically, Mobility Guardian has taken place in one of several regions in the United States, with a dozen or so partner and observer nations gathering at a few established bases to practice operating together,” said Wilkerson.  “In contrast, this year’s plan was ambitious. The exercise spanned the Pacific Ocean from Japan and Australia to Hawaii to Guam.”

The exercise consisted of 70 mobility aircraft with more than 3,000 service members from Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States; surge across an exercise area spanning 13 million square miles.

The major added Burk’s involvement in the exercise offered multiple benefits.

“When implementing newly acquired skills in an operationally challenging environment, the ability to harness the experience of Reserve aviators is crucial for the active duty from both safety and effectiveness standpoints,” he said.  “Similarly, the frequency and recency of active-duty training, enables them to develop and refine new skillsets that we bring back to the Reserves.

Burk who was based in Australia during the exercise, said he was impressed with the individual performances he saw, but there were areas that could use improvement as well.

“During an exercise, you need to discover what you do well and keep doing that,” he said. “But also, you need to find out what you don’t do well and find ways to improve. If everything was perfect, there would be no need for an exercise.”

Burk, who works in customs and border protection in his civilian capacity, said one of his favorite parts of the experience was the team building that occurred when the aircraft were not flying.

“We built a lot of relationships in the dormitories between missions,” he said. “Half of our living area had people from allied countries. The bonds built will make us stronger for the challenges we will face in the future.”