SAVANNAH, Ga. – Recently, Sentry Savannah, the Air National Guard’s primary large-scale 4th and 5th generation fighter exercise, concluded after several days of hard-hitting training off the coast of Georgia.
“It’s a great training that we can’t conduct at home station,” said Lt. Col. Neils Barner, 123rd Fighter Squadron Commander. “Here, we can practice different exercises, logistics, operations and train like we fight.”
Sentry Savannah offers a unique training experience to pilots and other Air National Guard members from all over the United States, including Oregon, Texas, Colorado and Massachusetts.
The exercise takes place over two weeks. This training affords Airmen the time to build and warm up before going all out with training.
“We can start at square one and exercise the basics to grow our capability,” said Barner. “In week two, you have a well-oiled machine and can integrate with the other units. Also, in week two, they up the threat level and make the scenarios a lot tougher.”
The exercise was staged out of the Savannah Air Dominance Center. Airmen conducted almost 650 flights during the two-week exercise, making it the largest air-to-air training exercise in the US.
This exercise isn’t only good for pilots to get valuable training, but maintenance Airmen and other career fields.
“We are given a chance for our younger Airmen to get extra knowledge on being a crew chief,” said Tech. Sgt. Timothy McEathron, a Crew Chief for the 142nd Maintenance Squadron. “They work on proficiencies and skills that they need to be functional Airmen on the flight-line.”
For many of the younger Airmen in the 142nd, this is their first time traveling for the Air National Guard and performing their job somewhere other than the home station, said McEathron.
The first commencement of this exercise took place in 2015. This year marks the fifth iteration of Sentry Savannah, with many more to come.