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NEWS | Feb. 16, 2023

NY and MI Guard Air War Experts Participate in Nordic Conference

By Eric Durr, New York National Guard

COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Three New York Air National Guardsmen who plan and execute air war campaigns participated in a workshop designed to ensure that the militaries of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland know what’s flying in the skies above their region.

The New York Airmen, all assigned to the 152nd Air Operations Group based at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, were part of a U.S. military delegation that included the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and U.S. Air Forces Europe.

Two Airmen from the Michigan Air National Guard’s 217th Air Operations Group also attended the January conference in Copenhagen.

Col. Kevin St. John, the commander of the 152nd, said the goal was to explore ways to connect the radars and sensors of the Nordic nations with NATO and U.S. systems.

The idea, he said, was to create a picture of what is flying in the region, then expand the capability to share information.

The Royal Danish Air Force and the U.S. Air Forces Europe hosted the Jan. 23-27 meeting. Seventy people attended to discuss improving the regional partnership in support of a unified network of sensors from all the services operating in the region.

This concept is known as Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or JADC2.

St. John said the discussions also included integrating air and missile defense information.

While Norway and Denmark are both NATO members, Sweden and Finland just applied for membership in 2022 following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

St. John said the meeting marked the first time Norway and Denmark joined these discussions.

“This conference was executed at exactly the right time in both of our planning cycles to mutually inform and highlight all the parties on the benefits and needs of collaboration,” said Maj. Ignacio Perez, the multi-domain warfare officer for the 217th.

“The event outlined milestones for bilateral sensor sharing arrangements, connections and their use to improve interoperability,” said Lt. Col. Douglas Schafer, the 152nd Air Communications Squadron commander.

Schafer said these efforts allow the allied air forces to plug in the U.S. Air Force’s mission partner environment, a term for computer networks that enable different militaries to collaborate and securely share classified information.

The discussions highlighted the need for more international training and exercise opportunities, according to Col. John Meili, the deputy commander of the 152nd Air Operations Group.

“These expanded opportunities strengthen the foundational trust and relationships necessary to facilitate strategic partnerships,” Meili said.

The demand for Air National Guard operational, intelligence, and communication support for operations in Europe was also discussed, he said.

St. John said this creates “integrated deterrence,” the concept that the United States “uses every tool available in close collaborating with counterparts, allies and partners and is central to any future fight.”