WADS Sends Command and Control SMEs to Cope Tiger 2024

  • Published
  • By Kimberly D. Burke, Western Air Defense Sector Public Affairs

As part of the State Partnership Program with Thailand, the Washington Air National Guard’s Western Air Defense Sector sent a delegation of four Command and Control (C2) subject matter experts to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 18-28, to participate in the annual Cope Tiger exercise hosted by the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF).

The State Partnership Program fosters a cooperative relationship that extends beyond military exercises. It creates a platform for the exchange of knowledge and expertise across various sectors. Cope Tiger 2024 served as a prime example of this multifaceted partnership. While the exercise focused on enhancing combat readiness and interoperability between air forces, it also highlighted the strong ties between Washington and Thailand. The Washington Air National Guard's participation alongside their RTAF counterparts signifies the enduring commitment to this partnership.

“The reason we are so invested in the SPP program is that this is the closest this organization will get to directly supporting the National Defense Strategy on a consistent basis,” elaborated Brig. Gen. Gent Welsh, Washington Air National Guard commander. “SPP work will be the closest our Airmen ever get to directly supporting national level defense priorities [allies and partners, and interoperability].”

C2 is a pivotal element in modern warfare, crucial for effective coordination and execution of operations. The Western Air Defense Sector C2 subject matter experts brought decades of experience to enhance the C2 capabilities of the RTAF. The RTAF were able to leverage the Western Air Defense Sector’s C2 expertise to improve their situational awareness and operational readiness, vital components in maintaining security and responding effectively to regional challenges.

According to RTAF Flt. Lt. Supphanat “Maxi” Ketkaeo, “the Western Air Defense Sector C2 delegation helped a lot in terms of mission planning as it was the first time we have applied this kind of planning, and it was all new for us. Now we are not only a support unit, but we are the main element in every phase of the exercise.”

Maj. Trent Farmer, 225th Air Defense Squadron air battle manager, observed the RTAF C2 team solving mission planning challenges in increasingly difficult and complex large force employment exercises. The RTAF C2 team was able to apply the lessons learned and showed continued improvement throughout Cope Tiger.

The exercise also provided an opportunity for cultural exchange and building mutual understanding among the service members from the United States and Thailand. “These interactions are essential in building trust and camaraderie, which are as important as the tactical objectives of the exercise,” explained Col. Antony Braun, 225th Air Defense Group commander. “The bond between the Washington Air National Guard and the RTAF continues to flourish, with Cope Tiger 2024 marking another successful chapter in our SPP collaboration. This collaboration will continue during the two-week Enduring Partners 2024 exercise in May to be held concurrently in Thailand and Washington.”