Cope North 15 kicks off at Andersen Published Feb. 18, 2015 By Melissa B. White Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFNS) -- Exercise Cope North 15 kicked off here Feb. 15, and will run through Feb. 27, marking the 86th iteration of the multilateral training exercise. The long-standing, multinational event is designed to increase interoperability and improve combat readiness and develop a synergistic disaster response capability between the countries involved. "It's important, so we can learn from each other," said Col. David Mineau, the Cope North 15 exercise director. "All of our forces have strengths and weak areas, but coming together, we can hone our abilities by listening to each other, increasing our interoperability and sharing techniques, tactics and procedures to make us more effective and to promote peace and stability in the region." The exercise has two main objectives: humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) training involving air base opening and aeromedical evacuations; and an air combat training portion, which includes air-to-air and air-to-ground combat and a large force employment exercise. There are approximately 2,000 military members participating in Cope North 15 this year from the United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and the Philippines, as well as observers from the Singapore and Vietnam air forces. There are also nearly 100 aircraft from 23 different flying units within the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, Royal Australian air force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) and South Korean air force involved in the exercise operations. This year is the first time the Royal New Zealand air force and Philippines air force are participating in Cope North to engage in the HA/DR portion of the exercise. "I'm so excited to be part of Cope North," said JASDF Capt. Yasuhiro Kimura, a Cope North 15 public affairs officer. "This is a very good learning experience, and it's very important for us to work together with other countries." Andersen Air Force Base started hosting Cope North annually in 1999, but the event was previously held in Japan up until that point as often as four times per year. The next Cope North exercise is slated for early 2016.