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Kentucky Air National Guardsmen participate in Eagle Flag

TSgt Philip Seif from the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Contingency Response Group based out of Louisville, Ky.,  assembles a communications antenna at Lakehurst Air Field at McGuire Air Force Base after arriving to provide humanitarian assistance as part of a joint exercise on July 28.
 (U.S. Air Force photo/MSgt Phil Speck)(Released)

TSgt Philip Seif from the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Contingency Response Group based out of Louisville, Ky., assembles a communications antenna at Lakehurst Air Field at McGuire Air Force Base after arriving to provide humanitarian assistance as part of a joint exercise on July 28. (U.S. Air Force photo/MSgt Phil Speck)(Released)

Soldiers and Airmen from exercise Eagle Flag offload pallets of food, water and shelter to be distributed to simulated local villages in a country needing humaniatiran assistance at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. July 27.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck/Released)

Soldiers and Airmen from exercise Eagle Flag offload pallets of food, water and shelter to be distributed to simulated local villages in a country needing humaniatiran assistance at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. July 27. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck/Released)

Soldiers of the 689th Rapid Port Opening Element, based out of Fort Eustis, Va., load a pallet of food and water to be distributed to a simulated local village needing assistance during exercise Eagle Flag at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. July 27.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck/Released)

Soldiers of the 689th Rapid Port Opening Element, based out of Fort Eustis, Va., load a pallet of food and water to be distributed to a simulated local village needing assistance during exercise Eagle Flag at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. July 27. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck/Released)

Chaplain James Ehrman from the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Contingency Response Group based out of Louisville, Ky., takes a quick break while assembling a tent at Lakehurst Air Field at Akrab International Airport after arriving to provide humanitarian assistance to the country of Nessor July 27.
 (U.S. Army photo/Capt. Andi Hahn)(Released)

Chaplain James Ehrman from the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Contingency Response Group based out of Louisville, Ky., takes a quick break while assembling a tent at Lakehurst Air Field at Akrab International Airport after arriving to provide humanitarian assistance to the country of Nessor July 27. (U.S. Army photo/Capt. Andi Hahn)(Released)

Staff Sgt. Brian Leach with the Joint Task Force-Port Opening 123rd Contingency Response Group waits with forklifts while an Air Force aircraft to lands and offloads pallets of food, water and shelter to be distributed to the local villages of Nessor as part of humanitarian relief efforts. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Andi Hahn, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office)

 (U.S. Army photo/Capt. Andi Hahn)(Released)

Staff Sgt. Brian Leach with the Joint Task Force-Port Opening 123rd Contingency Response Group waits with forklifts while an Air Force aircraft to lands and offloads pallets of food, water and shelter to be distributed to the local villages of Nessor as part of humanitarian relief efforts. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Andi Hahn, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office) (U.S. Army photo/Capt. Andi Hahn)(Released)

MCGUIRE AIR FORCE BASE, N.J. -- The Kentucky Air National Guard's Contingency Response Group mobilized to McGuire Air Force Base July 26 as part a joint exercise called Eagle Flag which simulates a deployment assisting in humanitarian relief efforts.

This year's Eagle Flag exercise consists of members from the Army and Air Force, both active and reserve components who come together to form the Joint Task Force-Port Opening. There are 147 total service members participating in the exercise to include 82 Kentucky Guardsmen from the 123rd CRG, 50 Soldiers from the Army's transportation detachment, or the 689th Rapid Port Operating Element, 10 Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing, three members from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 108th CRG, and two civilians from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

The JTF-PO is thrown into a mock scenario of being deployed to a struggling part of a poor country called "Nessor" and are evaluated on being able to work together to rapidly establish a Port Opening to support humanitarian relief operations within the country.

The JTF-PO Air Force assets provide the air mobility expertise and the Army assets provide the ground surface movement expertise to operate as one team to expedite movement of cargo from Lakehurst Airfield to a pre-determined forward node for further distribution. Basically getting the right stuff to the right place at the right time.

This is only the second joint exercise of Eagle Flag and the first year a National Guard unit was invited to participate.

"This provides a good challenge for us working with the Army," said Air Force Maj. Kevin Thornberry, JTF-PO logistical officer in charge. "We are getting more and more engaged with the Army with these kinds of joint activities and helps us understand their capabilities and they understand ours."

Army Capt. Matt Zayd, 689th RPOE operations officer in charge said that everybody had to realize on both sides, both Army and Air, active and reserve components, that there were challenges to overcome initially, but then established a good flow of operations.

"Once you overcome the difference in lingo and terminology, the basics are the same," Captain Zayd said. "Understanding each other and working together continually allows for the mission to be successful."

This is the first Joint Task Force-Port Opening with both active and reserve components from the Army and Air Force, however, the Kentucky Air National Guard has a distinguished history of supporting disaster relief missions overseas, their most recent airlift mission-request followed a deadly earthquake in Haiti earlier this year.