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News | Aug. 24, 2022

NY Guard Space ops Experts Mentor at Space Command Exercise

By Eric Durr, New York National Guard New York National Guard

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. – The Global Sentinel exercise, which began in 2014 with seven nations, allows U.S. allies to practice the skills to ensure that satellites used by their militaries for communications, navigation and reconnaissance keep functioning, according to U.S. Space Command.

The 2022 exercise in July required the participants to support a regional multinational space operations center to detect, monitor and track objects in orbit. They also responded to scenarios requiring multinational cooperation, according to Space Command.

This was the first year that mentors were part of the exercise, said New York Air National Guard Capt. Leah Elsbeck, 222nd Command and Control Squadron.

The 222nd was asked to send a mentoring team because of its expertise in space operations and because Brazil sent a four-person team to participate. The New York National Guard is paired with Brazil for training and exchange programs through the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program. 

Experts from the 222nd met with their Brazilian space operations counterparts in April during a trip to Brazil to exchange information, Elsbeck said. The mentors were a key part of the Global Sentinel exercise, according to a Space Command media release.

“Our mentors captured collaborating efforts, identified processes, data sharing methods, strengths and weaknesses from all partner nations and allies,” said U.S. Space Force Lt. Col. Erick Fonseca, Global Sentinel mentor lead. “The mentors also assisted Global Sentinel participants during scenarios and injects, ultimately strengthening the communication flow and relationships.”

Mentors included enlisted personnel, officers and civilians. They were selected based on their subject matter expertise, foreign language capability, skills and knowledge of geographic regions, according to U.S. Space Command.

The Brazilians had a strong grasp of space operations, Elsbeck said. Because of that expertise, the Brazilians worked with the team from the Portuguese military. Portugal just began a space operations effort four weeks before the exercise, she said.

New York Air Guard Senior Airman Dhruva Poluru, an expert on the Systems Took Kit software used to track the locations of satellites and other objects in orbit, worked with the Portuguese to help them learn the system.

“He’s the resident genius,” Elsbeck said.

Working with the Brazilians to help the Portuguese space operations cell strengthened the partnerships between the Brazilian military and the New York National Guard and highlighted the space operations expertise of the Brazilians and the 222nd, she said.