HIANG and Indonesian Air Defenders build relationships during SMEE 19-2

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Alison Bruce-Maldonado
  • 154th Wing Public Affairs

Six Hawaii Air National Guardsmen (HIANG) participated in a State Partnership Program (SPP) Air Defense subject matter expert exchange (SMEE) July 10, 2019, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The SPP SMEE began in late June on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, when members of the HIANG’s 169th Air Defense Squadron hosted their Indonesian Air Force (TNI) counterparts.

Army Captain Marco Hartanto, Hawaii National Guard (HING) SPP director, was on hand in Yogyakarta to share general information about the Hawaii SPP and HING missions. Being bilingual in the Indonesian language, Hartanto’s presence was crucial to the mission as he provided his own brand of professional expertise in the continuing effort to build a stronger and more cohesive relationship with the Indonesian military. 

“Indonesia’s mission is similar to the HIANG’s mission of air defense in the pacific,” said Hartanto. “The focus of this trip was to work on an exchange of air defense ideas and strengthening our relationships. Having mutual trust can build on our lasting efforts”.

“The purpose of our participation in the state partnership program is to develop a bond between the two militaries,” said Major Michael F O’Donnell, mission crew commander, 169th Air Defense Squadron (ADS), Air Defense SME. “That way, we can build on the relationships with our Indonesian counterparts and have a more advanced detailed discussion on air defense”.

The State Partnership Program links a state's National Guard with a partner nation in support of mutual interests. The program is held to foster and strengthen positive relations, grow partnerships and to build a capacity of trust with partner countries.

Including Hartanto and O’Donnell, nine military personnel made the nearly two-day journey to Yogyakarta in an effort to strengthen alliances with Indonesia’s air defenders. 

The other personnel making the trip included Colonel Keith P. Gibson, U.S. Air Force attaché to Indonesia, Colonel Phillip L. Mallory, commander, 298th Air Defense Group (ADG), Lead-Air Indonesia SPP SME, Major Roderick Cook, HIANG bilateral affairs officer, Office of Defense Cooperation, U.S. Embassy Indonesia, Captain Bradley J. Wee, senior director, 169th ADS, Air Defense SME, Captain Charles M. Etheridge, F-22 pilot, 19th Fighter Squadron, Air to Air Defense SME, Master Sgt. Michael A. Namumnart, enlisted weapons director, 169th Air Defense Squadron, Ground Control Intercept (GCI) SME, Tech. Sgt. Shaze K. Keahiolalo, enlisted weapons director, 169th ADS, GCI SME, and Tech. Sgt. Randy H. Lum, Data Links NCOIC, 169 ADS, Data Links SME.

“This trip was conducted to talk about tactics, techniques and procedures with air defense experts in the Indonesian military,” said O’Donnell. “This was a way for us to get smarter by learning from each other on how to protect our air space. That included a conversation relating to the tactics on protecting a nation’s air space”.

The SMEE in Yogyakarta included table-top discussions, question and answer sessions on the challenges with drones and GCI procedures as well as the HING and TNI organizational structures. There was a visit to the TNI Air training Wing and the 215 Wing radar tower. 

“There were in-depth discussions over the flying presence in Asia,” said Hartanto. “This was the first time this objective was accomplished, so not only did we meet our own objectives in the HIANG, but an additional objective was met in the Pacific Command (PACOM)”.

Additional briefings were conducted on the future of the SMEE. 

“For the future, we would like to invite our federal administration officials to participate in the SMEE,” said Hartanto. “We will continue to progress into other airmen to airmen discussions including mobility, leadership and professionalism, especially for those who are controllers or pilots that support the air defense mission”. 

“Now that we have advanced discussions on defending air space, we can build on that foundation,” said O’Donnell. “This will allow us to advance our discussions and build on conducting exercises together. This will include training on the air systems we have and whether it’s a radar, jet and maintenance facility, the goal is to ensure that we can operate and fly safely."