Air National Guard participates in a bi-national NORAD exercise

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt Carmina Aguirre
  • 125th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
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
"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 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.