CAMP MURRAY, Wash. - As the Washington National Guard’s State Partnership Program continues to evolve in its 21st year with the Kingdom of Thailand, the Airmen of the Western Air Defense Sector conducted a command and control battle management operations exchange in March.
“During our most recent visit to the Kingdom of Thailand, we had the opportunity to work with the Royal Thai Air Force on air defense and air sovereignty,” said Col. Ricardo Camel, commander of the 225th Air Defense Group, WADS. “Since 2016, WADS has conducted numerous Airman-to-Airman talks and subject matter expert exchanges to include datalink and air defense best practices.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, WADS members stayed connected virtually until in-person exchanges were possible.
“The goal of my trip to the Kingdom of Thailand was to meet with my counterpart to explore any new directions or opportunities to expand our integration,” explained Camel. “This took place during the tactical level engagement with the RTAF air weapons controllers.”
The tactical exchange, led by Maj. Blake Fair, WADS senior director, covered current joint tactical communications standards, offensive and defensive counter air planning principles and range training officer procedures. The exchange also provided a tactical perspective leading up to exercise Cope Tiger, which the RTAF executed afterward.
“At the tactical level, WADS operators were able to expose RTAF controllers to the current joint communications standards, which will greatly help them to execute during Cope Tiger,” said Lt. Col. John Manthe, WADS team lead for the exchange. “WADS personnel also discussed how to execute with a range training officer and observed scenario execution from a new simulator facility.”
While the tactical exchange was happening, Camel joined RTAF senior leaders to discuss topics including air domain awareness, budget challenges and future exchanges.
“We prepared for the Airman-to-Airman talks in July and gave our junior Guardsmen a chance to focus on air defense discussions,” said Camel. “We started developing plans for future exchanges.”
The 225th Air Defense Group is the force behind the Western Air Defense Sector, providing operations personnel and support to maintain a network of 32 systems and more than 1,000 circuits that integrate more than 200 radars, 600 radios, and 20 data link nodes across the continental United States to perform air defense in support of Operation Noble Eagle 24/7.