Story by Amn Aaron Guerrisky on 03/13/2019EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska Members from the 18th Aggressor Squadron (AGRS) are back on the road again for COPE North 2019 (CN19), a field training exercise at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, scheduled for Feb. 18 through March 8.
More than 2,000 U.S. military members, approximately 850 service members from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), and nearly 100 aircraft from 21 flying units will participate in CN19.
For more than 40 years, COPE North has demonstrated the U.S. Pacific Air Forces' commitment to peace and security throughout the Indo-Pacific region by enabling regional forces to hone vital readiness skills critical to maintaining regional stability.
"COPE North is a U.S. Pacific Air Forces-led trilateral exercise that is aided by the 35th Fighter Wing at Misawa Air Base, Japan, and the 353rd Combat Training Squadron (CTS)," said Lt. Col. John Anderson, 353rd CTS commander. "The trilateral being the U.S., Australia and Japan."
Much like in RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A), the 18th AGRS simulated the role of the enemy providing realistic training to other units. Their presence in exercises such as CN19 improves readiness by simulating combat scenarios to U.S. and partner-nation pilots, creating a more cohesive relationship and providing a strategic advantage unmatched by any competitor on the global stage.
Maj. Jarred Epstein, 18th AGRS assistant director of operations, said the mantra for the squadron is "know, teach and replicate." Their job is to know and replicate adversaries' capabilities and teach other pilots the tactics, techniques and procedures to respond to the enemy's force in the sky.
"In the summer we host RF-A for units to come and train," said Epstein. "But in the winter, we have to go on the road and we get an opportunity to work in different locations with different units."
Despite the busy summers due to RF-A, Anderson said the 18th AGRS's yearly migration south for the winter is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
As CN19 concludes, the 18th AGRS will continue additional training alongside our RAAF partners to further advance and sustain interoperability throughout the Pacific region.