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Air National Guard participates in a bi-national NORAD exercise

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dominic Valle from the 2nd Air Refueling Wing conducts a pressure test on a quick-don oxygen mask during exercise Vigilant Shield on 5 Wing Goose Bay, Canada, Oct. 25, 2014. The Vigilant Shield field training exercise is a bi-national NORAD Command exercise which provides realistic training and practice for American and Canadian forces in support of respective national strategy for North America???s defense. NORAD ensures U.S. and Canadian air sovereignty through a network of alert fighters, tankers, airborne early warning aircraft, and ground-based air defense assets cued by interagency and defense surveillance radars. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Troy Anderson / RELEASED)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dominic Valle from the 2nd Air Refueling Wing conducts a pressure test on a quick-don oxygen mask during exercise Vigilant Shield on 5 Wing Goose Bay, Canada, Oct. 25, 2014. The Vigilant Shield field training exercise is a bi-national NORAD Command exercise which provides realistic training and practice for American and Canadian forces in support of respective national strategy for North America???s defense. NORAD ensures U.S. and Canadian air sovereignty through a network of alert fighters, tankers, airborne early warning aircraft, and ground-based air defense assets cued by interagency and defense surveillance radars. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Troy Anderson / RELEASED)

A 125th Fighter Wing F-15C Eagle pulls away from a KC-135 Stratotanker after refueling during Vigilant Shield 15 on Oct. 22, 2014, at 5 Wing Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The 18th ARS conducted air refueling missions with U.S. Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft during the field training exercise. The Vigilant Shield field training exercise is a bi-national NORAD Command exercise which provides realistic training and practice for American and Canadian forces in support of respective national strategy for North America’s defense. NORAD ensures U.S. and Canadian air sovereignty through a network of alert fighters, tankers, airborne early warning aircraft, and ground-based air defense assets cued by interagency and defense surveillance radars. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew B. Fredericks)

A 125th Fighter Wing F-15C Eagle pulls away from a KC-135 Stratotanker after refueling during Vigilant Shield 15 on Oct. 22, 2014, at 5 Wing Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The 18th ARS conducted air refueling missions with U.S. Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft during the field training exercise. The Vigilant Shield field training exercise is a bi-national NORAD Command exercise which provides realistic training and practice for American and Canadian forces in support of respective national strategy for North America’s defense. NORAD ensures U.S. and Canadian air sovereignty through a network of alert fighters, tankers, airborne early warning aircraft, and ground-based air defense assets cued by interagency and defense surveillance radars. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew B. Fredericks)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Approximately 115 Air National Guardsmen of the 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville, Fla. and the 101st Air Refueling Wing, Bangor, Maine, participated in Exercise VIGILANT SHIELD 2015 at the remote location of 5 Wing Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

Exercise VIGILANT SHEILD is an annual North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) exercise to train participants in Homeland Defense processes.

As a combined, bi-national military command, NORAD illustrates the close coordination and operational ties between Canada and the U.S. that support the security of North America.

The exercise was held October 15 -29, 2014
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"It is an important bi-lateral arrangement we have with our partners to the north," said Lt. Col Brian Bell, 159th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander. "It is a partnership that we continue to exercise and build upon."

The exercise synchronizes the response of NORAD and USNORTHCOM to homeland defense scenarios with air defense operations at the primary venue.

"This was a unique exercise for us because we are deploying fairly far up to the north in Goose Bay, Canada, and the Maine KC-135 tankers, 'MAINEiacs' as they are called, were an integral part in not only getting us to the theater, but also helping us with the missions that we had here," said Bell.

The Air National Guard's federal mission is to maintain well-trained, well-equipped units available for prompt mobilization during war and provide assistance during national emergencies, such as natural disasters or civil disturbances.

"As missions shift to the Air National Guard, especially operational missions...it is important that our force maintains this operational posture and this is a classic way to prove that the capability still exists," said Lt. Col. Dave Pratt, 101st Air Refueling Wing, Bangor, Maine.

Tech Sgt. Jessica Barry, a boom operator with the 101st Air Refueling Wing, provided refueling to the F-15 Eagles of 125th Fighter Wing. 

"Without air refueling, they would have to divert and in a real world situation they may have to punch out of the cockpit. We want to make sure they have the max unload of gas to get to a safe destination," said Barry.

A variety of aircraft exercised contingency operations in the defense of North America.  Deployed assets included the CF-18 Hornets, F-15 Eagles, E-3 AWACs, C-130 Hercules, KC-135 Stratotankers, and all the necessary maintenance and support personnel to allow for sustained flying operations at the deployed location.