ROME, N.Y. - The New York Air National Guard hosted the commander of Brazil’s Aerospace Operations Command, part of a nine-person Brazilian Air Force delegation, during a week-long engagement focused on space operations, remotely piloted aircraft and cybersecurity.
Gen. Heraldo Luiz Rodrigues and his team visited New York Air National Guard units specializing in these functions, New York National Guard headquarters and the New York National Guard security mission in New York City.
The visit June 6-10 was organized through the Department of Defense National Guard State Partnership Program. New York initialed a partnership with South America’s largest nation in 2019.
“We knew what they were interested in,” said Brig. Gen. Denise Donnell, the commander of the New York Air National Guard. “So we made sure we married them up with what we had that they were looking for.”
Rodrigues commands Brazil’s Aerospace Operations Command, known by the Portuguese acronym COMAE.
The organization, created in 2017 as part of the Brazilian Air Force, plans, coordinates and controls the country’s air and space operations, including satellites and launch facilities, telescopes and cooperation with NASA. The Brazilian Space Agency, army and navy are also part of the joint command.
With 6,000 Guard Airmen, five flying wings and the Eastern Air Defense Sector, New York’s Air Guard is the largest in the country, so there are a lot of capabilities to discuss, Donnell said.
The Brazilian team spent a day talking about space operations with the Guard Airmen of the 222nd Command and Control Squadron, headquartered in Rome, New York.
The “Triple Duece” provides trained personnel for surge and contingency support to the National Reconnaissance Office Operations Center, according to Col. Timothy Stanley, the squadron commander.
That agency runs the U.S. network of surveillance and reconnaissance satellites.
Stanley said the 80 Airmen also work with the Space Force in space battle management and space domain awareness.
He explained this translates into assisting in the operations, protection, and defense of U.S. space systems and knowing where each spacecraft is in relation to others and orbiting debris.
Stanley said his team discussed space management command and control and using commercial satellites for military purposes with the Brazilians.
The 222nd is located with the Air Force Research Laboratory, which researches space technologies for the Air Force. He said the Brazilians spoke with lab officials about partnering in some of that research.
The Brazilian team also visited the Eastern Air Defense Sector in Rome.
EADS is staffed by New York Air Guardsmen and is responsible for air defense of the United States east of the Mississippi. Rodrigues’ command, responsible for monitoring Brazil’s airspace, was briefed on EADS network systems and cybersecurity.
“Being able to share operational knowledge with our Brazilian counterparts was personally rewarding for our Airmen,” said Col. Paul Bishop, the EADS commander.
The Brazilians also visited the 174th Attack Wing, based at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse. The wing has operated the remotely operated MQ-9 Reaper aircraft since 2010.
The 174th trains MQ-9 pilots and sensor operators for the total Air Force and conducts MQ-9 operations for combatant commanders worldwide.
The wing incorporates an air operations unit and cyberwarfare specialists, so the Brazilians also learned about those capabilities, Donnell said.
The Brazilians spent time with Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York, and his command team to better understand National Guard domestic operations.
In Brazil, the active air force and army play the role in domestic operations that the National Guard performs in the United States, Rodrigues explained through a translator, so this information is valuable.
The visit finished with a firsthand look at the New York Naval Militia watercraft security efforts in New York harbor, highlighting the Guard’s support to civil authorities.
Rodrigues said the trip to New York met all his expectations, answering questions about how the U.S. Air Force conducts unmanned air, space and cyber operations.
The Brazilian military, he said, wants to continue the partnership with the New York National Guard because it has been very valuable.
The New York National Guard also benefits from the relationship, Donnell said.
New York Air Guard units took part in Operation Tapia, an annual Brazilian search and rescue exercise that provided experience in deploying people and aircraft and working with another military, and will do so again, Donnell said.
And New York Guardsmen have learned new techniques in search and rescue and chemical and biological response from Brazilian counterparts, Donnell added.
She emphasized the partnership enables the New York National Guard to play a key role in developing military relationships with an important South American country.
“We have a chance to support Department of Defense and National Guard Bureau objectives in the Southern Hemisphere,” Donnell said.