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New York, Vermont Air Guard Train Together

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Patrick Espeut and Airman 1st Class Rebekah Wilson,
  • 105th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

NEWBURGH, N.Y. - Members of the 105th Airlift Wing took to the sky in a simulated high-threat environment exercise Dec. 6-9 at Stewart Air National Guard Base.

The flight initiated a four-day training, which included a variety of simulations to replicate flying through contested airspace. During the exercise, pilots and aircrew of the 105th were able to strengthen their technical and tactical competency for future missions.

“[We] will hone [our] tactics, techniques and procedures to make best use of [our] current force,” said Gen. Mike Minihan, commander of Air Mobility Command. “Victory will be delivered on the shoulders of mobility Airmen, and victory starts now.”

The exercise integrated different assets across multiple units within the Air National Guard. These assets included a C-17 Globemaster from the 105th and multiple F-35A Lightning II flown by pilots from the 158th Fighter Wing, based at Burlington Air National Guard Base in Vermont. 

In the training scenarios, the C-17 crew flew simulated cargo missions. The fighters from the 158th split into two groups, with one acting as enemy combatants attempting simulated attacks on the cargo plane while the other provided air defense for the C-17.

The 105th aircrew worked together to respond to these threats using accurate communication and evasive maneuvers, including tactical penetration descent and low-level flying over mountainous terrain. The final day included the C-17 landing and taxiing to provide a ground exercise for the crew while the F-35s defended the cargo plane from the air.

Capt. Jonathan Guagenti, a pilot assigned to the 105th Airlift Wing, acted as aircraft commander during the exercise.

“We are doing an integrated mission sortie with our friends up at the 158th Fighter Wing, where the scenario is that we are attempting to ingress a field and there are enemy air forces out to prevent us from getting to that field,” said Guagenti. “So their training was on how they were going to protect us while we fly in to get them supplies they would need in a real-world situation.”

Maj. Benjamin Buxton, a pilot assigned to the 105th Airlift Wing, explained the thought process behind having multiple units participate in the exercise.

“When we integrate in small exercises like this, we are strengthening those relationships with local Guard units while learning lessons on employment and survivability for the C-17 in future conflicts,” said Buxton.

The 105th, in conjunction with other local units, has been trying to make trainings such as these more realistic. As conveyed in Minihan’s “The Mobility Manifesto,” speed and technology will not win the day; critical thinking and adaptive, innovative execution will. The 105th Airlift Wing developed this training exercise to better react to changes and overcome challenges through the teamwork of diverse air platforms across multiple units.

In February, the 105th conducted similar training with the 174th Attack Wing based out of Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, New York. The 105th C-17 crew flew a simulated cargo mission through enemy-controlled territory. Meanwhile, an MQ9 Reaper drone from Hancock Field flew overhead, providing surveillance so the cargo plane could avoid attacks from notional enemy ground forces.

“We have been operating in theaters where we own the sky,” explained Lt. Col. Emile Sendral, commander, 105th Operations Support Squadron. “We are preparing for a future war where that may not be the case. To be successful, we will need to be able to coordinate with various units.”