Hawaii Air National Guard hosts first Sentry Aloha of 2016

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Stan Pak
  • 154th Wing Public Affairs
The first large-scale fighter centric exercise of 2016 was recently completed here Aug. 17-26.

Sentry Aloha is an ongoing series of combat exercises hosted by the Hawaii Air National Guard and involves a variety of fighter and support aircraft from varying Air Force, Air National Guard, and  DoD participants.

"Part of the purpose of Sentry Aloha is to integrate with the other guard platforms as well as some active duty units that are here to better understand how each participant operates." said Lt. Col. Kristian Thiele, 149th Fighter Wing F-16 Fighting Falcon instructor pilot.

Sentry Aloha exercises are held several times a year with the first one normally starting towards the beginning of the calendar year. Due to the recent deployment of the F-22 Raptors, this inaugural 2016 event was pushed back to August.

The exercise provides a cost effective and realistic combat experience for participating pilots to aid them in completing their homeland defense and overseas combat missions. The exercise also granted access to flying with or against several fighter jets including the F-22, the F-16, and the F-15 Eagle.

"The F-22 is still a relatively new platform compared to how long the F-16 and F-15 have been around and certainly the tactics are evolving even between the 4th and 5th generation fighters." said Thiele "This really provides a great opportunity for us to work together to bring out the best of all those platforms in order to defeat or neutralize the enemy that we're training against."

The exercise also included many support aircraft including the C-130 Hercules, KC-135 Stratotanker, and C-17 Globemaster III.

This iteration of Sentry Aloha involved over 800 personnel and over 40 aircraft from eight other states and territories. Ground support was a crucial aspect in keeping all the different aircraft mission ready.

"A lot of people think these sorties just happen but there's a lot of the crew chiefs and all maintenance behind the scenes getting the work done." said Tech. Sgt. Adam Flood, 149th Fighter Wing crew chief.

Sentry Aloha brings together many different facets of wartime missions. All aspects of operations needed to work cohesively in order to achieve mission success.

"We are definitely fighting some pretty difficult scenarios, learning a lot of good lessons based on those scenarios," said Thiele. "We don't necessarily get the opportunity to do a lot of this high-level integration with very robust threats so we are getting a lot out of it, and I think a kind of 're-blueing' as we would call it in our community - getting to see a lot of these newer combat tactics and be involved in it."