Portland Pilots join Sentry Aloha
By Technical Sgt. Emily Thompson, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 11, 2016
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Hawaii, is known for its prime vacation destination, known for the amazing ocean views and the sweet smell of flowers. It's also a great location for military training. Sentry Aloha is an exercise that provides the opportunity for numerous pilots from a variety of aircraft, to train together in a large exercise with vast air space and little travel time.
"Sentry Aloha is a National Guard Bureau funded exercise, designed to increase combat readiness," said Major Ryan "Jipsy" Itoman, 199th Fighter Squadron pilot, Hawaiian Air National Guard, and the officer in charge of Sentry Aloha.
This exercise is comprised of a variety of aircraft, which includes the F-16 Falcon from Texas, F-15 Eagle from Oregon, Japan, and Mississippi, KC-135 Stratotankers from Ohio and Utah, and C-130 Hercules from Georgia and Kentucky. The Hawaiian Air National Guard featured the F-22 Raptors and the KC-135s.
"It's an educational experience for visiting pilots," said Itoman. "The focus for Sentry Aloha is the Pacific Command's area of responsibility. We have the largest surface to air space and the air space is vast."
Itoman went on to state the uniqueness of this exercise because of their ability to tailor the mission and limiting the amount of participants.
"We limit the amount of participants so that units can fly the way they want, as opposed to other exercises where they have more restrictions, and everyone likes to deploy to Hawaii," he said.
The military provides numerous exercises throughout the year, such as Red Flag in Las Vegas and Sentry Savannah in Georgia. These exercises provide pilots with training on various missions and tactical maneuvers.
"This exercise is a local exercise to Portland to practice fighter integration and offensive/defensive fighter air scenarios," said Major Jared "Dirty" Aranda, 142nd Fighter Wing pilot, Portland Air National Guard, and weapons officer. "In Portland, we're limited to the kind of fighting we can do."
In a wartime situation, pilots would use defensive-air tactics to protect a target, and offensive-air tactics going out to strike a target.
"We don't have enough airplanes to practice defensive air tactics," said Aranda. "We practice air-to-air at home because that's all that we are capable of performing, so that's why we come out to Sentry Aloha. It's just easier to practice our offensive/defensive air tactics, instead of just tactical intercepts at home."
The benefit of coming to Sentry Aloha is the amount of ramp space and the location of the large air space is closer to the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH). In that case, it provides the opportunity to have more time to practice fighting tactics and have more use with tanker refueling.
JBPHH is also better equipped to hold more airplanes on the ramp to enhance the exercise scenario. At Portland Air National Guard base, there is simply not enough ramp space for Portland's F-15s and other aircraft.
"This is the kind of training we just can't get at home, we couldn't house as many people in Portland," said Aranda. "The infrastructure here [Hawaii], is just better for us. These new facilities are world class. We have more secure facilities to house space for everyone to brief and debrief. The Total Force Integration, between active duty and the guard, allows them more space and infrastructure."
This is the fourth time Portland ANG has participated in Sentry Aloha. The participation rate has been higher, because of the great training and location.
"I think the biggest thing about Sentry Aloha is they do a great job of allowing individual units to tailor the training," said Aranda. "When you go to red flag, it's such a huge exercise that they already have it set up a certain way. You can't tailor the missions."
The training missions are already built in for exercises like Red Flag and Sentry Savannah. At Sentry Aloha, the missions can be tailored towards the learning objectives and requirements for each specific squadron, and each unit is in charge of their own mission, which makes Sentry Aloha such a valuable exercise.
"I think we will continue to come to this exercise," said Aranda. "It makes us significantly more survivable, and it is excellent training."