Georgia Guard combat communications and air control squadrons join forces for air war exercise

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  • By Public Affairs
  • 116th Air Control Wing
Two Georgia Air National Guard squadrons joined forces providing crucial air space control services for a simulated air war during Exercise Sentry Savannah 15-2, May 4-16, at the Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Georgia.

This exercise and an earlier Sentry Savannah exercise in February served as the backdrop for the 283rd Combat Communications Squadron out of Marietta, Georgia, and the 117th Air Control Squadron from Savannah to practice a new way of providing communication services during deployments.

"If an air control squadron like the 117th deploys somewhere that already has established communications they can tie into what's already there," said Master Sgt. Stephen, a cyber transport craftsman with the 283rd CBCS. "When they go somewhere remote that doesn't have communication systems in place, that's where we come in."

In the past air control squadrons were responsible for their own communication links.

"When we used to do it all ourselves we were working in a smaller bubble. Today we're connecting to the big network that goes all around the world," said Lt. Col. Ron, commander of the 117th ACS.

"Today's leaner Air Force and changes in the cyber world requires experts like the 283rd to provide that crucial connection to the big network so we're able to get information more effectively than when we could do it ourselves," said the commander.

As F-35, F-22, F-16, F-18, F-15, T-38, and KC-135 aircraft took to the skies for war-game scenarios, Airmen from the 283rd CBCS used their mobile satellite to provide classified and unclassified internet and voice services to the 117th ACS air battle execution site and extended those services to a deployed radar site.

The 117th ACS, using data from the 283rd CBCS, provided battle management and command and control for more than eight different airframes flying more than 300 sorties. 

"The 117th provided tremendous situational awareness during each flight of the exercise," said Maj. Josh, an F-15C fighter pilot with the 194th Fighter Squadron, California Air National Guard. "This has been a great opportunity for all of us to train together and fight together so we are prepared for anything in the future."

For some members of the 283rd CBCS, working with the air control squadron provided a unique experience.

"Working with the air controllers has allowed us to see what happens with the information once we pipe it out to them," said Senior Airman Rachael, a radio frequency transmission technician with the 283rd CBCS. "We are still integrating to learn what the ACS does and the services they offer."

Rachael shared how the experience of this exercise and the capabilities of the 283rd CBCS can not only benefit flying wings in deployed locations but also provide valuable capabilities in potential domestic operations.

"In a natural disaster, we can set up our small dish, called a SWE-DISH, and allow first responders to communicate through our radio repeaters," said Rachael.