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Georgia, Alabama, Puerto Rico Airmen exercise communications

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Brandon A Patterson,
  • 156th Wing

SALINAS, Puerto Rico – Several combat communications squadrons across the Air National Guard converged on Puerto Rico for a 15-day exercise, Tropic Thunder, April 1-15.

The Puerto Rico Air National Guard’s 156th CBCS hosted the exercise at Camp Santiago Joint Training Center, Salinas; Punta Salinas Air Guard Station, Toa Baja; and Punta Borinquen Radar Station, Aguadilla. 

The exercise trained, tested and prepared Airmen from the 156th CBCS, the 232nd CBCS, Alabama Air National Guard, and the 283rd CBCS, Georgia Air National Guard, for coordinated agile communication delivery in austere locations.

“Agile Combat Employment” is a key driver of how warfighters train and execute the mission. The goal is to activate small packages of multi-capable Airmen who can rapidly deploy to locations with differing degrees of austerity.

Exercises like this enable Guard members to build camaraderie with other combat communicators and share best practices while gaining a more realistic feel for what it would be like on deployment or a real-world situation. These remote locations force the combat communicator to prepare not only for what is required but also for what may go wrong.

“In our business, the most important skill sets are technical expertise and teamwork with extreme execution,” said Lt. Col. Troy Johnson, the 156th CBCS commander. 

During the exercise, key stakeholders from Air Combat Command came down and engaged with the missions and leadership, which helped identify deficiencies and better strategize at the federal level. 

Federal Emergency Management Agency leaders attended to learn about the capabilities of combat communication and how the agencies can collaborate during domestic operations. 

“We are here to support the warfighter with the entire communication package, whether it is a fellow Air Force or joint warfighter,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Tritz, the 232nd CBCS commander. “Between the units, we are all learning from each other to be the most effective combat communicators possible.”