Kentucky Air Guard logs many firsts in Sentry Storm
By Phil Speck, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 31, 2021
LOGAN, W. Va. -- More than 20 members of the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group participated in a unique training exercise here involving members from across the Department of Defense.
The exercise, named Sentry Storm and held in July, provided training opportunities for multiple units from the Army and Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and Civil Air Patrol.
According to Master Sgt. Kyle Goins, chief for the Contingency Response team, many firsts came out of the event, which also tasked members of the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron.
“This is the first time that we’ve participated in an exercise with the 123rd STS, and it was great being able to see how they operate and for them to see how we operate,” Goins said. “It’s amazing to me that the CRG and the STS are located in the same area of our base but have never worked together before.”
During the exercise, the 123rd STS performed an airfield seizure, taking control from adversaries and securing the property. The airfield was then handed off to the Contingency Response team to set up an air transportation hub that can process supplies and cargo arriving and departing via airlift — marking the first time this hand-off has occurred during a training exercise.
Another first for the Contingency Response team was the use of Method B Combat Offloads. This alternative technique employs barrels to offload cargo pallets from aircraft instead of forklifts or K-loaders. It is sometimes used in austere locations that lack standard offload equipment.
Sentry Storm tested a wide variety of capabilities, including the lifting and staging of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, combat search and rescue, integrated C-130 aircraft formations, airdrops, dirt landing zone operations, sling load operations, aeromedical evacuation, helicopter lifts and forward operating base ground training.
Senior Airman Samuel Jenkins of the 123rd CRG said the broad range of training opportunities substantially enhanced his real-world experience.
“One of the things I love about the CRG is you're not stuck to what your AFSC is,” he said. “Instead of being behind a computer reading reports all day, I was able to go out and do helicopter sling load operations.”
The hilly terrain of West Virginia added a challenging aspect to the mission and required constant creative thinking, he added.
“It’s always good to find out what works and what doesn't work, speaking practically. The book can always say it one way, but in the real world that might not always be how it works perfectly.”