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Reservists sharpen readiness, build relationships at Resolute Sentinel

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Mickey Kirschenbaum
  • JTF RESOLUTE SENTINEL 2022
What did you do for your summer vacation? For many Air Force Reservists, a trip to Central America was in their plans. Many Reservists participated in Resolute Sentinel 22, a multi-event exercise program that stretched from this past May until the end of August in the countries of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Belize.

Resolute Sentinel is a new 12th Air Force (Air Force Southern)-led U.S. Southern Command exercise first held in 2021. Resolute Sentinel evolved from the longstanding New Horizons and Beyond the Horizons, annual joint humanitarian assistance exercises in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Resolute Sentinel provides joint training and improved readiness of U.S. and partner nation civil engineers, medical professionals and support personnel through humanitarian assistance activities. RS22 is USSOUTHCOM's largest exercise for 2022 at $14.5 million. The exercise positively influences Central America, supporting the USSOUTHCOM commander’s strategic priorities of security cooperation, building partner capacity and deterring malign actors. The exercise consisted of eight multi-domain training events, five construction projects and 14 medical training engagements.

When Resolute Sentinel talks about joint training, it is truly a joint exercise. RS22 incorporated Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines working with foreign national militaries and security forces, non-governmental organizations, local and national government agencies, and US embassies. Of the 883 military participants, 766 were members of the Reserve Components (Air and Army/National Guard and Reserve). Of that total, 184 were Air Force Reservists.

RS22 provided a valuable opportunity for Air Force Reservists to be interoperable and provide relevant support to our active duty counterparts and ISO Commander requirements incorporating the principle of “Ready Now” Airmen.

The Reserve Component was able to provide just-in-time training to units going downrange. Reserve units provided construction, logistics, medical, aeromedical evacuation and security forces support for RS22. Integrating Reservists into large combatant command-sponsored exercises with other services and components is crucial to sharpening their skills in real-world settings. This integration leads to more prepared Reservists with a stronger Total Force.

“It was interesting to see how everyone operates and trains the same from a coalition standpoint,” said Capt. Zachary Underwood, a pilot with the 403rd Wing’s 815th Airlift Squadron, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, while participating in the exercise in Guatemala. “Plus, it was a great experience for the squadrons to get out and train in a different country and a different environment.”

Much was accomplished through the course of the exercise. More than 7,000 local patients and 15,000 animals were treated in medical engagements. The combat training featured activities focused on personnel recovery, aeromedical evacuation, combat search and rescue, and parachute operations. The humanitarian and civic assistance activities associated with the exercise are on track. Participants completed two Southwest Asia huts, two water wells in Honduras (servicing 110,000 locals) and two schools and a clinic in Guatemala.

“We need to increase our level of training, and the best way to do that is through our allies like the United States,” said Salvadoran Army Maj. Carlos Diaz, head of the medical division at the Central Military Hospital in San Salvador. “We recognize that U.S. doctors, medics and nurses have many experiences. We arranged some exchanges in trauma, doing rounds and learning from them to see how to use our resources.”