Capt. John Cruz
5th Battle Coordination Detachment Ground Liaison Det., U.S. Army-Pacific
HONOLULU — Twenty-two nations participated with more than 40 ships and submarines, 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel in the Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, exercise, here, June 20-Aug. 3.
RIMPAC is the world’s largest international maritime exercise that provides a unique training opportunity and helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.
For members of the 5th Battle Coordination Detachment Ground Liaison Det., U.S. Army-Pacific, RIMPAC offered a unique opportunity to support a fighter squadron aboard the USS Nimitz supercarrier.
“We primarily support Air Force wings,” said Sgt. 1st Class George Jones, noncommissioned officer, 5th BCD.
“However, when an aircraft carrier deploys, we are the ground liaison teams for the fighter squadrons off the carrier,” Jones said.
Serving aboard Nimitz for RIMPAC 2012, the 5th BCD briefed pilots with pre-staged scenarios before each mission to ensure success. In a real combat situation, the information to brief the pilots would come from the unit’s headquarters element.
“You’re giving ground situational awareness prior to the pilot’s flight,” said Master Sgt. Charles Lightner, NCO in-charge, 5th BCD. “He’s got to have a good understanding of what’s happening on the ground. If we weren’t here, then the pilots would fly in and not have a clue of what’s going on until contact was made with a Joint Terminal Attack Controller.”
On top of mission briefs, Lightner and Jones fostered good relationships with a different service and learned as much as they could.
“We do this so you can understand what we do as GLDs and see what you guys do on a carrier,” Lightner said. “It’s building a working relationship between two services. We know how you operate, and you guys know how we operate; we can share that wealth of knowledge from being on ship and seeing what you guys do.”
RIMPAC is held every two years by the commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, in and around the Hawaiian Islands.
This year’s exercise marked the 23rd time RIMPAC has been held since the series began in 1971.