Hawaii ANG supports arctic exercise, employs rescue training

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Mysti Bicoy
  • 154th Wing Public Affairs

The Hawaii Air National Guard demonstrated its airlift and controller capabilities in the North American Aerospace Defense Command's Arctic regional exercise, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, July 5-14.

The routinely held exercise, AMALGAM DART, features a variety of military aircraft from the U.S. Air Force that operates out of the northern region and has included resources from the Hawaii ANG’s 298th Air Defense Group for more than seven years. This iteration incorporated C-17 Globemaster III support from the 204th Airlift Squadron, which performed a series of maneuvers alongside participating fighter, refueling and command and control aircraft.

Master Sgt. Ei Jung Yiu, 298th ADS exercise planner, has provided support for exercises for more than twenty years and continues to advocate for more training opportunities. "It's exciting to see how the program has grown for the Hawaii ANG in the past three years," said Yiu. "I'd like to see the HIANG's participation expand in the scenario as we are able to secure targets to participate."

Participation in AMALGAM DART proved to be a cost-effective exercise for the Hawaii-based guardsmen, as it also provided a contrasting training environment to practice mission-essential competencies. Outside of the scope of the exercise, crewmembers completed a series of dedicated training sorties to fulfill annual currencies.

The airlift professionals capitalized on mountainous low-level flying in an unfamiliar environment all the while incorporating multi-ship and multi-element airdrops with additional locally stationed C-17s from the 144th and the 517th Airlift Squadrons.

"This was a great opportunity to execute off-station training with our operational staff and crews, something our squadron has wanted to do for years.” said Lt. Col. BlytheJeanne Itoman, 204th Airlift Squadron commander. "Alaska also provided opportunities for combat offloads and assault strip training objectives while testing (Alaska's) homeland defense response.”

Alaska and Hawaii Globemaster III units share a unique rescue mission set in support of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Members from both ANG squadrons performed a series of rescue maneuvers, such as search and rescue patterns, airdrops and flare deployments.

To maximize the interoperability between units, designated aircraft was supported by hybrid aircrews, support and maintenance personnel – having members from separate units assigned to a partnered aircraft.

“This is something we don't get a chance to do often, but it helps build trust and relationships with those pilots and loadmasters who sometimes assist and help augment our CCP crews for launches," said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Moracco, 204th AS instructor loadmaster.

Participating in realistic exercises and collaborating efforts is among the most effective ways to enhance interoperability and effectiveness between partnered units.

"Our friends from Alaska, the Alaska ANG and U.S. Air Force, helped facilitate excellent training and provided a foundation to learn and build relationships, all critical for mission readiness," said Itoman. "Thanks to them and the collaborative support of our leadership, we have accomplished training objectives with emphasis on building relationships and unit morale."