Sentry Savannah builds warfighter readiness, lethality

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Morgan Whitehouse
  • Air National Guard

About 1,300 Airmen, joint personnel, civilian partners and more than 50 airframes participated in exercise Sentry Savannah May 2-15.

Hosted by the Air Dominance Center at Savannah’s Combat Readiness Training Center, Sentry Savannah showcased the nation’s combat aircraft readiness.

Reservists from the 419th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, participate in Sentry Savannah, the Air National Guard’s largest fourth and fifth-generation fighter aircraft exercise. The annual exercise is held at the Air Dominance Center, one of only four Combat Readiness Training Centers in the United States. This is the first year the 419th FW has participated in the event, which it will use to validate its deployment model known as Agile Combat Employment. (U.S. Air Force video by Staff Sgt. Anthony Pham)

“Sentry Savannah is the National Guard Bureau’s premier counter air exercise specializing in fourth and fifth-generation fighter tactics,” said Lt. Col. Steven Thomas, exercise director. “The purpose of the exercise is to be able to bring in all of these different assets and be able to train face to face and learn from each other and learn the different tactics that each fighter brings to a fight to a near-peer adversary.”

Fighter aircraft involved in the exercise included F-15C Eagles from the Florida ANG; F-16 Fighting Falcons from the South Carolina ANG; F-22 Raptors from the Virginia ANG; F-35A Lightning IIs from Hill Air Force Base, Utah; as well as F-22s and T-38 Talons from Tyndall AFB, Florida.

Throughout Sentry Savannah, simulated air battles were conducted in a military operations airspace stretching from Charleston, South Carolina, to Orlando, Florida, 30 to 120 miles off the East Coast.

“The clear benefit here at Sentry Savannah is the tactical air combat training,” said Capt. Kevin Danaher, Florida ANG pilot. “We get to integrate with different airframes from across the country and learn about what other airframes bring to the fight. When we work together, we’re able to bring out the strengths in each airframe.”

In addition to providing the air battle practice space, Sentry Savannah enabled pilots to accomplish a significant portion of their annual flying requirements in just two weeks and served as a capstone for 22 pilots enrolled in Tyndall AFB’s F-22 training program.

Participants launched approximately 680 sorties, with each event centered on developing multi-capable Airmen with the Agile Combat Employment mentality.

“Another advantage of Sentry Savannah is that each unit has to pick up and do operations away from home station, which makes you get more into the expeditionary mindset,” Danaher said. “You have to think critically, innovate and overcome the inevitable challenges you’re going to have from doing your operations not at home, which mimics what we do when we actually project power in real-world situations.”

Exercises like Sentry Savannah are crucial for the warfighter to maintain readiness to integrate, operate and execute air superiority for the full spectrum of conflict.

“The common theme from our senior leaders is that we have to train for tomorrow’s fight,” Thomas said. “That is exactly what Sentry Savannah does. We are the only CRTC training the next generation of fighter pilots for tomorrow’s fight today.”