PUNTA BORINQUEN RADAR SITE, Puerto Rico --
Airmen with the Puerto Rico Air National Guard’s 141st Air Control Squadron attended this year's Southern Strike training in Gulfport, Mississippi, April 15-29, 2021.
These Airmen, from operations and maintenance fields respectively, were able to maximize their combat readiness through integrated, tailored, joint and, coalition scenarios based on current global crises.
Southern Strike is hosted by the National Guard Bureau and is a total force, full-spectrum warfare training event which incorporates National Guard, Active Duty and, Reserve components in the exercise.
“The training provided each unit an opportunity to develop their own mission objectives in order to coordinate a broader logistical plan that created a high degree of mission command, from planning to execution,” said Capt. Abdiel Aponte, the 141st ACS chief of training. “It is a great accomplishment that, in their first live-fire training, our crew overcame the expectations in each of their respective jobs: operations, power production, radio and antennas, and computer maintenance.”
For Master Sgt. Luis Ortiz, a cyber transport craftsman with the141st ACS, the most rewarding part was to get a greater glimpse about how the unit could directly contribute to live flight situations as space operators.
“Back in our home unit, we don’t have a chance to work with certain communication equipment that is only used with live flight planes, so it was very enriching for our readiness to be exposed to a more demanding flying control situation,” said Ortiz.
Electrical production specialists from the 141st ACS, who attended the event, had a chance to work with the Combat Readiness Training Center power production team, an opportunity that taught 141st ACS Airmen how to manage power production in landing sites during training operations.
“We learned a whole new skill set and logistics management knowledge by working with different kinds of generators and barriers in that space,” said Master Sgt. Javier Ramírez, an electrical production specialist with the 141st ACS. “I also had the best camaraderie experience in my military career with the guys from Gulfport CRTC. We learned a lot from each other's job and the bonding between the teams was great.”
Air traffic control specialists from the 141st ACS interacted with several aircraft and also provided air control in various missions such as refueling, escort, closer support, air to air, and air to ground.
“Our greatest achievement was to successfully train non-experienced control group members’ skills in an airspace owned by the Federal Aviation Administration,'' said Capt. Angel Ríos, the 141st ACS air battle manager/operations officer. “Airmen experienced different coordination efforts that taught them how to manage limited airspace, safety calls procedures and emergency procedures in case an unauthorized plane enters into space.”
After 14 days of training, the Airmen successfully trained their mission objectives: to provide command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence systems in the airspace. The team learned how to adjust themselves to diverse communication dynamics in a warfare environment.
“After this training, the 141st has a far more advanced deployment readiness that would help us execute our mission more proficiently,” said Ríos.