A review of military training exercises held throughout 2019

SANTA RITA, Guam — Guam-based U.S. military forces held eight large training exercises last year. The exercises are listed below.

  • Sea Dragon, held Jan. 14 to Jan. 25: Sea Dragon was a joint U.S. and Australia anti-submarine warfare exercise based out of Andersen Air Force Base.
  • Cope North, held Feb. 18 to March 8: Flying units from the U.S., Japan and Australia improved interoperability during missions. Humanitarian and disaster relief exercises were also conducted.
  • Surface Warfare and Advanced Tactical Training, completed on March 18: ships from the Japan-based 7th Fleet trained in advanced surface warfare tactics.
  • Resilient Typhoon, held April 22 to April 26: U.S. fighter and transport aircraft from across the Pacific practiced dispersing, moving and reorganizing at alternate airfields when faced with extreme weather.
  • Pacific Vanguard 19-2, held throughout May: Naval forces from the U.S., Australia, Japan and South Korea conducted advanced integrated exercises at sea.
  • Hydracrab, held Aug. 19 to Aug. 31: Explosive ordnance disposal units from the U.S., Australia, Canada and New Zealand conducted integrated tactical training.
  • Pacific Griffin, held Sept. 27 to Oct. 10: Ships of the U.S. and Singapore navies trained a broad range of naval operations, to include a sinking exercise.
  • Pacific Vanguard 20-1, held throughout November: Naval forces from the U.S., Australia, Japan and South Korea conducted advanced integrated exercises at sea that built upon previous training conducted during the Pacific Vanguard exercise held in May.

Guam Guardsman completes Air War College

BARRIGADA, Guam — Lt. Col. Christian Cruz of the Guam Air National Guard in December successfully completed the Air University’s eSchool Air War College distance learning program, according to a Dec. 20 release.

 The senior-level professional military education program is based on five core competencies — leadership, profession of arms, warfighting, national and international security and communication studies and is designed to prepare graduates to provide strategic leadership, expertise and critical thinking in support of national security objectives. 

Cruz joined the active duty Air Force in 2003 and has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2009, he joined the Guam Air National Guard as officer in charge of the 254th RED HORSE Engineering Section and in 2013 was selected as commander of the 254th Security Forces Squadron. He currently serves in the Guam Air National Guard headquarters and in his civilian occupation as supervisor for the Design Branch of the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron Facilities Engineering and Acquisition Division at Andersen Air Force Base.

(From left) Maj. Gen. Esther J.C. Aguigui, Adjutant General of Guam; Sgt. Edwin Cantara; Pfc. Donna Mendiola; Pfc. Layla Ham; Staff Sgt.
Mycolene Palomo; Pfc. Jesus Santos; PFC Joseph Atoigue; PFC Gerard Quichocho; Sgt. Jonathan Lujan; and State Command Sgt. Maj. Agnes
Diaz, State Command Sgt. Major of Guam.

Photo courtesy of the Guam National Guard

Guam Guardsmen deploy to border
Eight Guam National Guard soldiers on Jan. 8 departed Guam to deploy to Yuma, Ariz. in support of Operation Guardian Support, the domestic mission to secure the U.S. southwest border. They are replacing soldiers who returned the night of Jan. 7.

More than 200 Guam Guard soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment are deployed to the Sinai Peninsula as part of the Multinational Force and Observers mission, which supervises and implements the security provisions of the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty; more than 70 Guard soldiers are mobilized to support Task Force Talon, which operates the terminal high-altitude area defense — or THAAD — anti-ballistic missile defense system on Guam; and one Guard Airman is deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, which is the U.S. effort to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Naval Base Guam Harbor Security Forces escort Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Topeka as it transits Apra Harbor to return to homeport.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy

USS Topeka returns to Guam

SANTA RITA, Guam — The Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Topeka on Dec. 20 returned to Guam following its most recent deployment. The Topeka is one of four forward-deployed submarines assigned to Submarine Squadron 15, based in Apra Harbor, Guam.

USCGC Washington decommissioned

SANTA RITA, Guam — The Guam-based USCGC Washington was decommissioned after more than 30 years of service, according to a Dec. 18 release. The cutter, which was first launched in November 1989, will be transported to and put into service by another country as part of the Foreign Assistance Act, which allows transfer of excess defense equipment to friendly foreign governments. Three new ships with enhanced capabilities called fast response cutters will be assigned to Coast Guard Sector Guam. The first of them — USCGC Myrtle Hazard — is due to arrive later this year (See “Coast Guard investing in assets for future in region” in the May 13 issue of the Journal).

Guard Readiness Center accessible to veterans

BARRIGADA, Guam — The Guam National Guard Readiness Center in Barrigada is now accessible to authorized veterans, according to a Dec. 31 release.

The change in policy is in accordance with changes made to the National Defense Authorization Act. On Nov. 12, Naval Base Guam began granting access to authorized veterans and eligible caregivers in accordance with the changes.

Those in possession of a Veterans Health Identification Card must vet their cards through the Defense Biometric Identification System at Andersen Air Force Base or Naval Base Guam in order to gain access.

The Trusted Traveler Program is not in effect, so only authorized VHIC holders will be allowed to enter. Vehicles may be subject to search. mbj