KADENA AIR BASE, Japan --
The 353rd Special Operations Group increased their ability to respond to emerging mission requirements in the Pacific with the recent deployment of the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) Air Rapid Response Kit (ARRK) Oct. 23-31, 2017 at Kadena Air Base and Nov. 1-5, 2017, at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea.
“We support real-world contingencies whenever and wherever called upon, so the capability the ARRK brings no longer limits the 353rd SOG to established military bases and brings us closer to the forward edge of the battlefield,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Nathaniel Jones, ARRK mission commander and 17th Special Operations Squadron assistant operations officer. “This capability allows us to extend our reach and go where we need to go at any location within the Pacific.”
Special operations forces (SOF) have used the ARRK in U.S. Central Command since 2001, but this exercise marks the tent system’s first employment in the Pacific.
“Though we have had the ARRK in our possession for years, this week-long expeditionary basing exercise is the first time we have forward deployed with the system, fully set-up the operational command and control (C-2) node and bedded down our troops and aircraft for an extended period of time,” said Jones. “Moving from a proof of concept to execution would not have been possible without the 27th Special Operations Wing J-Team and AFSOC’s ARRK program manager, who deployed with our group to assist with construction of the tent system.”
AFSOC civil engineer units known as J-Teams, based out of Cannon Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field, routinely support the inspection and operational use of the ARRK. The ARRK provides a bare basing tent system capable of housing personnel and executing SOF operations from a fully functional C-2 node.
“Guided by the nine-member J-Team from Cannon, our group set-up the ARRK within six hours upon arrival on the Korean peninsula,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Marty Cowan, 17th Special Operations Squadron superintendent. “Sixty Airmen from different organizations to include operations, maintenance, civil engineer, communications and logistics worked together to establish a competent command and control capability for a number of aircraft to execute mission requirements.”
Throughout the week-long exercise at Kunsan Air Base, the 353rd SOG worked with the host nation to conduct air operations while testing the ARRK’s ability to support command and control for the U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando II and MC-130H Combat Talon II.
“We normally support our aircraft operating in the Pacific from Kadena Air Base, but the forward deployment of the ARRK to Kunsan Air Base enabled us to provide C-2 from the Korea peninsula,” said Cowan. “We remain focused on the threats in the Pacific, but we also see the tremendous value the system will bring to any humanitarian assistance, disaster relief (HADR) contingency. The success of the ARRK has enabled the 353rd SOG the ability to deploy and operate in any austere environment anytime, anyplace, anywhere.”
The 353rd SOG is the focal point for special operations aviation activities throughout the Pacific. The group plans and executes general war and contingency operations using advanced aircraft, tactics and techniques to infiltrate, exfiltrate, resupply and support SOF.