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Joint forces execute exercise PAC WEASEL

Airmen pose in front of aircraft.

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 927th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) from MacDill Air Force Base, pose alongside a KC-135R Stratotanker assigned to the 927th ARW during a PACIFIC WEASEL (PAC WEASEL) exercise at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 29, 2021. PAC WEASEL gives pilots an opportunity to learn from one another in a combination of joint and bilateral scenarios. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern).

Side of aircraft with U.S. Air Force painted on it.

A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the 927th Air Refueling Wing from MacDill Air Force Base, performs pre-flight maintenance on a KC-135R Stratotanker prior to a PACIFIC WEASEL exercise at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 29, 2021. The exercise included a simulated Defensive Counter-Air mission better enabling the defense of the U.S. allied and partner nation’s maritime vessels. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Antwain Hanks)

Airmen launches plane at Misawa Air Base flight line.

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 927th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) from MacDill Air Force Base, prepare a KC-135R Stratotanker assigned to the 927th ARW for takeoff during a PACIFIC WEASEL (PAC WEASEL) exercise at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 29, 2021. During the PAC WEASEL exercise more than 30 aircraft, including the U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-15 Eagle, E-3 Sentry, KC-135 Stratotanker and U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon, conducted a simulated Defensive Counter-Air mission over the western coast of Japan. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

Aircraft preparing to take off from Misawa Air Base.

A U.S. Air Force KC-135R Stratotanker assigned to the 927th Air Refueling Wing from MacDill Air Force Base prepares to taxi to the runway prior to a PACIFIC WEASEL exercise at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 29, 2021. The exercise highlights U.S. Air Forces Japan’s ability to protect countries or military assets and capabilities within the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Antwain Hanks)

Fighter jet lands while a plane prepares to take off from Misawa Air Base runway .

A U.S. Navy EA-18G Growler flies over a U.S. Air Force KC-135R Stratotanker assigned to the 927th Air Refueling Wing from MacDill Air Force Base, sitting on the runway prior to takeoff during a PACIFIC WEASEL (PAC WEASEL) exercise at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 29, 2021. Since the first PAC WEASEL in 2018, the 35th Fighter Wing has practiced these large force exercises and each iteration has been refined and improved upon since its inception. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

Plane takes off from Misawa Air Base runway.

A U.S. Air Force KC-135R Stratotanker assigned to the 927th Air Refueling Wing from MacDill Air Force Base, takes off on the runway during a PACIFIC WEASEL exercise at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 29, 2021. The KC-135 Stratotanker provides an aerial refueling capability throughout a vast area of responsibility and enhances the U.S. Air Force’s primary mission of global reach. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

Pilot climbing into the cockpit of a fighter jet.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Robert Grochalski, former 35th Fighter Wing PACIFIC WEASEL (PAC WEASEL) mission commander, conducts preflight checks on an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a routine sortie at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Oct. 5, 2021. Grochalski spearheaded the planning and integration of different assets and capabilities during a PAC WEASEL exercise Oct. 1, to test the defense capabilities of U.S. Forces Japan. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

Pilot sits in cockpit of fighter jet preparing to take off.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Robert Grochalski, former 35th Fighter Wing PACIFIC WEASEL (PAC WEASEL) mission commander prepares for takeoff after entering the cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a routine sortie at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Oct. 5, 2021. Under Grochalski’s leadership, the units involved in a PAC WEASEL exercise were empowered to overcome challenging scenarios by sharing innovative techniques and tactics in a joint environment. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

Fighter wing takes off from Misawa Air Base runway.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 14th Fighter Squadron takes off on the runway during a PACIFIC WEASEL (PAC WEASEL) exercise at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 29, 2021. PAC WEASEL supports the Air Force’s directive to “Accelerate Change or Lose” by giving operators challenging scenarios and the opportunity to share best practices and new techniques in joint and bilateral environments. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

Aircraft on the flight line.
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A U.S. Air Force KC-135R Stratotanker assigned to the 927th Air Refueling Wing from MacDill Air Force Base prepares to taxi on the runway prior to a PACIFIC WEASEL exercise on Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 29, 2021. The joint effort directly enhanced the U.S. Air Forces Japan’s ability to detect, deter and potentially defend Japan from adversaries, while empowering service members to be innovative and diversify their approach to any given obstacle. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Antwain Hanks)

Misawa Air Base --

Members of Team Misawa executed a simulated defensive counter-air mission in support of a PACIFIC WEASEL (PAC WEASEL) exercise over the western coast of Japan, Oct. 1, 2021.

Exercise PAC WEASEL is a reoccurring exercise allowing joint and bilateral partners to work together to find innovative solutions to any given task. This exercise series enhances the defense capabilities of U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) and Japanese allies, and it supports the U.S. commitment to defending a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

“PAC WEASEL exercises give pilots an opportunity to learn from one another in a joint and bilateral environment, as they are put through various challenging scenarios requiring them to be innovative and work together,” said Capt. Robert Grochalski, 35th Fighter Wing PAC WEASEL mission commander.

This iteration of PAC WEASEL simulated a defensive counter-air mission that tested pilots' abilities to defend a maritime vessel, maintaining its safety and preventing enemy aircraft from reaching a certain distance from the ship.

The exercise led by Grochalski included over 30 various aircraft from the U.S. Navy and Air Force such as F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-15 Strike Eagles, E-3 Sentries, KC-135 Stratotankers and P-8 Poseidons.

“One of the refined tactics learned was how to execute F-16 Fighting Falcons and F-15 Strike Eagles Defensive Counter-Air integration and how to incorporate different airframe tactics into one cohesive defensive force,” said Grochalski. “It is humbling to know that multiple aircrews entrusted me to be able to lead, plan and execute this mission.”

Under Grochalski’s leadership, the units involved were empowered to overcome challenging scenarios sharing innovative techniques and tactics in a joint and bilateral environment to support the U.S. Air Force directive to "Accelerate Change or Lose”.

“Grochalski displayed great composure and solid Airmanship when it came to being mission commander during exercise PAC WEASEL,” said Maj. Luis Monsalve, 35th Fighter Wing exercise PAC WEASEL instructor pilot of record. “Mission commanders are tasked with planning and integrating different mission design series and capabilities in a large scale fight to ensure the achievement of the base commander’s intent.”

The joint effort directly enhanced USFJ’s ability to detect, deter and potentially defend Japan from adversaries, while empowering service members to be innovative and diversify their approach to any given obstacle.