Published by Pacific Daily News on January 13, 2016
Written by Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno
Guam will host more than 1,800 military personnel from the United States, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines and South Korea for the annual massive military exercise Cope North.
Andersen Air Force Base is hosting Cope North on Feb. 10 through 26, the U.S. Air Force announced.
In a separate announcement, the Air Force’s Pacific Command confirmed that 12 F-16 Fighting Falcon jets and about 200 airmen are arriving for a temporary deployment in Guam this month as part of a rotational movement of U.S. forces.
The 200 airmen who are being deployed to Guam are from the 112th Fighter Squadron from Toledo Air National Guard Base in Ohio.
The Ohio airmen and their Expeditionary Fighter Squadron will move to Guam temporarily to assume a mission that the 125th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, whose base is Tulsa, Oklahoma, is currently serving out of Kadena Air Base, Japan.
The airmen from Oklahoma are scheduled to return to the Tulsa Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma, but 12 of their F-16 Fighting Falcons will move to Andersen for the airmen from Ohio to operate.
Andersen Air Force Base will open its doors to the general public to attend an open house featuring static displays and flyovers during Cope North, according to the Air Force Pacific Command.
The open house will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 20.
Aircraft static displays, such as the U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress and F-16 Fighting Falcon, Japanese Air Self-Defense Force F-2 Viper Zero and Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18F Super Hornet will be featured.
The open house also will feature entertainment, vendors and concessions, according to the Air Force.
Updates will be posted on the event's Facebook page. the Air Force said.
More than 100 aircraft from the U.S. military and its allies also are expected to arrive for the exercise, which Andersen is hosting for the 16th year.
This year’s Cope North will include humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training and air-to-ground practice airstrikes.
The 206-acre island of Farallon de Medinilla, in the Northern Marianas, which the U.S. military has leased for a bombing range, will be the target for the airstrikes.
The annual exercise comes in the wake of North Korea’s most recent and fourth underground nuclear bomb tests, and amid unresolved multi-country territorial disputes following China’s expansions in the South China Sea.
On Saturday, a U.S. B-52 bomber aircraft from Andersen was joined by South Korean F-15 and U.S. F-16 fighter jets in a low flyover over South Korea, near the North Korean border.
Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of the U.S. military’s Pacific Command, said in a press release the flyover “was a demonstration of the ironclad U.S. commitment to our allies in South Korea, in Japan, and to the defense of the American homeland.”
Cope North began in 1978 as a quarterly bilateral exercise held at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Cope North was moved to Andersen in 1999, according to the Air Force.
“Today, the annual exercise serves as a keystone event to promote stability and security throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region by enabling regional forces to hone vital readiness skills critical to maintaining regional stability,” according to the Air Force.
More than 930 U.S. airmen and sailors will train alongside approximately 490 Japanese, 375 Australian, five Filipino, 20 South Korean and 35 New Zealand service members, according to the Air Force.