177th Fighter Wing Enhances Readiness in Sentry Aloha 24-2 Exercise

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Connor Taggart
  • 177th Fighter Wing - NJ Air National Guard

The 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard, alongside aviation units from across the United States, participated in Sentry Aloha 24-2 from May 27 to June 14.

The exercise, facilitated by the 154th Wing, Hawaii Air National Guard, integrated Air National Guard forces and fostered collaboration with active-duty Air Force assets and other Department of Defense components.

This year’s second iteration of Sentry Aloha was built around distributed mission planning and operations. This concept enabled participants to operate with heightened levels of autonomy as warfighters accomplished a series of combat objectives.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Michael Oliver, Sentry Aloha exercise director, said this strategic shift challenged participants to employ decentralized and flexible practices in dynamic combat environments while facing the threat of advanced enemy aircraft.

Daily sorties conducted during Sentry Aloha centered on intensive air-to-air combat simulations, engaging adversarial and friendly forces.

“Sentry Aloha provided us with incredible training we wouldn’t have otherwise received while home-station, such as fighter integration tactics between F-16s, F-22s and F-35s,” said Lt. Col. Michael Long, 119th Fighter Squadron commander, 177th Fighter Wing, Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. “It’s been a terrific blend of aircraft, with the right number of fighters in the sky to optimize training.”

The exercise also provided a testing ground for Agile Combat Employment techniques, enabling units to disperse across multiple locations within the Hawaiian Islands.

"It allowed us to keep our forces separated and safe in a contested environment, preparing us to meet up effectively in airspace and execute missions," explained Capt. Joe Pitts, 119th Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot.

“Unlike Red Flag exercises, where operators are constrained based on the number of aircraft participating, Sentry Aloha permitted pilots to fully train to Mission Design Series (MDS)-specific tactics in a multi-MDS environment,” Long stated.

In addition to participating in flight line operations, 177FW enlisted Airmen had a critical role in maintaining operational readiness.

“If one person out of the group of people that are here to support these airplanes in flying is not doing their job, or is not there in general, we can't go,” Pitts noted. “It takes everyone as a team to get together to make these airplanes fly and to get American airpower downrange where we need it.”

"One Team, One Fight" is an often-used term, used to either describe cooperation between armed services or the integration of Air National Guard, reserve and active-duty forces into our nation's defense. Each member within 177FW’s footprint at Sentry Aloha displayed "One Team, One Fight," committing themselves fully to the overall success of the whole team, keeping our aircraft operational, sending off our pilots and getting airpower where it was needed the most.

For the 177FW, Sentry Aloha not only enhanced operational readiness but also strengthened participants’ ability to collaborate across military branches.

"Participating in exercises like Sentry Aloha allows us to perfect our techniques and integrate seamlessly with other DoD assets, paving the way for effective joint operations in future missions," Pitts concluded.

The Sentry Aloha exercise continues to be a significant event in preparing U.S. military forces for realistic combat scenarios, ensuring they are ready to respond to any challenge with the effective integration of joint forces.