New York Air National Guard Servicemembers Participate in U.S. European Command Exercise

  • Published
  • By Maj. Suzanne Jedrosko
  • 174th Attack Wing

More than 60 New York Air National Guard Airmen from the 174th Attack Wing’s 152nd Air Operations Group (AOG) participated in one of the Department of Defense's largest annual multinational training exercises this spring.

The exercise, titled Austere Challenge 2024 (AC24) is an annual European Command (EUCOM) tier 1 command post exercise. First held during the 1990s, the goal of Austere Challenge is to prepare U.S. and NATO servicemembers for complex multinational operations. The focus of this year’s exercise was a scenario involving a global adversary which included threats to North American population centers. The scope of the scenario allowed participants to focus on a wide range of training objectives such as joint targeting and fires, logistics, agile combat employment, and air support to ground combat operations. It was also the top priority command post exercise for the U.S. European Command.
"The 152nd AOG is pivotal in providing one of the largest augmentation contingents,” said Col. Kevin St. John, the 152nd AOG commander, highlighting the unit’s pivotal role in the exercise. “We're a key component of U.S. Air Force Europe’s ability to enable EUCOM cohesion and integration amongst U.S., NATO, allies, and partners in operations across multiple domains."

During the exercise, 152nd AOG Airmen deployed to various locations across Europe, including Ramstein Air Base Germany and Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy. The unit also participated from its headquarters in Syracuse, NY.

Col. John Meili, the 152nd AOG deputy commander, functioned as the Joint Air Component Coordination Element (JACCE) for U.S. Naval Forces Europe – Africa, emphasizing the importance of interservice coordination during joint operations. "JACCE teams are critical to ensuring the theater air component commander’s scheme of maneuver is synchronized with the joint force campaign planning effort,” Meili said. “Our team’s participation solidifies total force capabilities and demonstrates the Air National Guard’s ability to seamlessly flow into the joint and coalition commanders' headquarters to integrate air power with joint operations."

Lt. Col. Nicholas Welly, the commander of the 152nd Combat Operations Squadron, 152nd Air Operations Group, led air campaign execution within the air operation center as the chief of combat operations. “Great power competition requires command and control to be both resilient to attack and reconstitutable,” Welly said. “Distributed operations like those exercised in AC24 are critical capabilities for a future fight with a near-peer adversary."

AC24 included leadership from various U.S. commands, as well as operators from NATO countries like Estonia, Finland, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. In total, more than 4,000 participants from around the world were involved, including more than 1,000 U.S. Air Forces Europe and Africa participants. The exercise also featured simulations of more than 400 aircraft at 22 different locations.

Austere Challenge 2024, enables U.S. and NATO participants, from first-term servicemembers to general grade officers, to hone their warfighting skills while preparing for future complex military operations.