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116th and 128th Airmen participate in Astral Knight 20

U.S. Air National Guard Master Sgt. Jared Hass, 116th Air Control Squadron heating, ventilation, and air conditioning noncommissioned officer in charge, checks a generator during exercise Astral Knight 20 at Malbork Air Base, Poland, Sept. 23, 2020. Members of both the 116th and 128th ACS augmented the 606th ACS during AK20. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Tory Cusimano)

U.S. Air National Guard Master Sgt. Jared Hass, 116th Air Control Squadron heating, ventilation, and air conditioning noncommissioned officer in charge, checks a generator during exercise Astral Knight 20 at Malbork Air Base, Poland, Sept. 23, 2020. Members of both the 116th and 128th ACS augmented the 606th ACS during AK20. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Tory Cusimano)

U.S. Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Adam Veith, 128th Air Control Squadron cyber transport, conducts an operations check during exercise Astral Knight 20 at Malbork Air Base, Poland, Sept. 23, 2020. The United States is able to maintain a global presence through the combined efforts of our active duty, National Guard, and Reserve partners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Tory Cusimano)

U.S. Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Adam Veith, 128th Air Control Squadron cyber transport, conducts an operations check during exercise Astral Knight 20 at Malbork Air Base, Poland, Sept. 23, 2020. The United States is able to maintain a global presence through the combined efforts of our active duty, National Guard, and Reserve partners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Tory Cusimano)

U.S. Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Cullen Pederson, 128th Air Control Squadron command and control battle management operator, establishes a data link connection during exercise Astral Knight 20 at Malbork Air Base, Poland, Sept. 23, 2020. Air Guardsmen and Reserve Citizen Airmen provide critical support throughout the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa area of operations by deploying to and interacting with a variety of nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Tory Cusimano)

U.S. Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Cullen Pederson, 128th Air Control Squadron command and control battle management operator, establishes a data link connection during exercise Astral Knight 20 at Malbork Air Base, Poland, Sept. 23, 2020. Air Guardsmen and Reserve Citizen Airmen provide critical support throughout the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa area of operations by deploying to and interacting with a variety of nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Tory Cusimano)

MALBORK AIR BASE, Poland --

The 116th Air Control Squadron assigned to Camp Rilea Armed Forces Training Center, Oregon, and the 128th ACS out of Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin, supplied personnel to the 606th ACS, assigned to Aviano Air Base, Italy, during exercise Astral Knight 20.

When members of the U.S. Air National Guard deploy downrange, they work side by side with active duty service members. 

Developing strong relationships for total force integration is key to mission success.

At exercise Astral Knight 20 in Poland, members of the 116th, 128th, and 606th Air Control Squadrons got the chance to practice for the real thing.

“From day one, working with the 606th ACS has been great,” said U.S. Air National Guard Master Sgt. James Mueller, 128th ACS cyber transport. “It’s been a seamless transition.”

Members of all three squadrons came together at Malbork Air Base, Poland, for AK20.

“We couldn’t have done this exercise without [the 116th and 128th ACS],” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Richard Fox, 606th ACS deployed radar site lead. “The knowledge and experience they brought helped us stand up this deployed radar site.”

Air Control Squadrons are made up of several unique Air Force Specialty Codes. During AK20, Air National Guard members integrated with their active duty AFSC counterparts to learn from one another.

“Knowledge sharing has been one of the main opportunities here,” Mueller said. “It’s always great to see how another Air Control Squadron operates.”

Due to international COVID-19 restrictions, the path from the U.S. had a few more obstacles for the 116th and 128th ACS.

“[There was] a lot of work behind the scenes,” Mueller said. “We certainly had to do our homework. We’re just happy it all came together.”

As AK20 winds down, the squadrons look toward the future.

“The interpersonal relationships we’ve built here will pay dividends down the road,” Fox said.

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