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NEWS | Feb. 20, 2024

Guam Air Guard Security Forces Join Cope North Exercise

By Mark Scott, Guam National Guard

BARRIGADA, Guam – About 20 Airmen from the Guam Air National Guard’s 254th Security Forces Squadron “Defenders” are on active duty to secure fighter jets operating from Guam International Airport during the Cope North 24 exercise in February.

Cope North 24 is a multinational, U.S. Pacific Air Forces-sponsored field training exercise focused on airborne integration for large-force employment and agile combat employment. 

Approximately 1,700 U.S. Airmen, Marines and Sailors are training with 700 service members from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Royal Australian Air Force, French Air and Space Force, Royal Canadian Air Force and Republic of Korea Air Force. By the end of the exercise, about 85 allied aircraft will have flown 1,400 missions across three islands and six airfields.

Among those charged with the security mission are Master Sgts. Jordanna Escobar and Misty Palomo, commanded by Lt. Col. Stephen Leon Guerrero.

“Our mission is to perform airfield security, including entry control points, roving patrols, and a base defense operations center,” said Escobar.

The Airmen are working out of a newly acquired domestic operations trailer, which houses office space for computer stations and communications equipment, exterior floodlights, and an arms room to store weapons. The Defenders’ work allows pilots participating in Cope North 24 to integrate with civilian airports, enabling more options for takeoff and landing, part of the Air Force’s concept of agile combat employment.

Leon Guerrero, commander of the 254th SFS, said the Guam Airmen proudly volunteered for the mission.

“Participating in named exercises like Cope North gives our Airmen an opportunity to see their critical role in not only the defense of Guam and the Marianas but how we fit in the larger National Defense Strategy and the ACE concept. It gives us a sense of purpose and pride in our role as Defenders of our island and our free way of life,” said Leon Guerrero.

Palomo said being from Guam helped smooth the process of working with civilian counterparts at the Guam airport and added a sense of meaning to the mission.

“We’re all from here, and we all know the mission,” said Palomo. “It’s nice to already have that relationship with our civilian counterparts, which is part of our culture, and it just feels natural. We’re so proud to do this to represent our island and the United States Air Force.”



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