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News | Feb. 22, 2023

U.S. Air Force Takes Part in Disaster Response Exercise with Caribbean Partners

By 1st Lt. Christian Little, 23rd Wing Public Affairs

More than 300 U.S. Airmen will deploy as the 23rd Air Expeditionary Wing to Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic to participate in the Air Forces Southern Command’s exercise Forward Tiger, February 2023.

During this Lead Wing exercise, Airmen will partner with Dominican, Jamaican, and Canadian forces to demonstrate how their longstanding partnership and combined forces can be used to establish and secure airfields and conduct contingency missions from those airfields. This type of training enhances the response to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions throughout the Caribbean.

“The way we show our continued support to our neighbors and partners in the Caribbean is through exercises like Forward Tiger which increase our ability to integrate forces and hone our ability to respond to people in need,” said Col. Russell Cook, 23rd AEW Commander. “We can never know when a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis will appear, but we can know, through extensive preparation and training, that the U.S. and our international partners will be prepared to respond.”

The 23rd AEW is one of a select group of Lead Wings which is an organization that specializes in rapidly generating combat airpower from small, geographically-separated base clusters across an area of operations.

"Forward Tiger showcases the U.S. Air Force's ability to rapidly deploy and respond around the globe at a moment's notice, emphasizing our commitment to regional security and our enduring partnership," said Maj. Gen. Evan Pettus, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander. "The U.S. has an interest in supporting our partner nation's capabilities, because our partner's success is our success."

Exercise Forward Tiger will contain training opportunities involving personnel recovery, maritime and air force integration, and disaster response.

"The 23rd Wing's ability to operate from various locations, like the Caribbean, provides joint training and improves readiness of U.S. and partner nation military personnel through interoperability training," said Maj. Gen. Evan Pettus, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander. "Forward Tiger honors our promise to be a trusted partner by increasing collaboration, building partner nation capacity, and enhancing interoperability so we can quickly work together when support is needed."

The 23 AEW Lead Wing construct was designed to plug into existing logistics and military frameworks and provide functional expertise to accomplish dynamic missions.

“We quickly realized that our Lead Wing infrastructure can be used for more than effectively generating combat airpower,” Cook said. “Effective command and control, innovative ways of employing air mobility, and the ability to operate from austere airfields are all critical components of disaster response, and we have led the way in implementing these in a Lead Wing construct.”