Operation Forward Tiger 2023
by U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Gisselle Toro Caraballo
March 7, 2023
The Puerto Rico Air National Guard 156th Wing at Muñiz Air National Guard Base, Carolina, Puerto Rico operated as an expeditionary air base during Operation Forward Tiger 2023 in support of U.S. Southern Command’s large-scale multinational exercise which began in the month of February.
U.S. Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II pilots assigned to the 23rd Air Expeditionary Wing prepare to depart the 156th Wing airfield during Operation Forward Tiger at Muñiz Air National Guard Base, Carolina, Puerto Rico on February 22, 2023. In this training exercise the Puerto Rico Air National Guard provided logistical support, command and control, airfield operations support and hangar space. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Gisselle Toro Caraballo.)
Operation Forward Tiger 2023 is a joint exercise involving the Dominican Republic air force, Jamaica defense force, Canadian armed force and U.S. Air Force focused on maximizing the critical value of air mobility among nation partners to accomplish Agile Combat Employment, known as ACE to enhance humanitarian assistance and disaster response capabilities throughout the Caribbean. ACE is a proactive and reactive operational maneuver focused on rapid disbursement of military assets and resources to forward operating locations in conjunction with allies and partners.
“The 156th Wing support has been critical for providing the logistical and operational support the Flying Tigers needed to be capable of meeting AFSOUTH and partner nation objectives in the region,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Russell Cook, the 23rd Air Expeditionary Wing commander. “As a Lead Wing, we were able to conduct the Agile Combat Employment and counter maritime training that is hard to get anywhere else.”
The 23rd AEW is an active duty U.S. Air Force component which specializes in rapidly generating combat airpower from small, geographically-separated base clusters across an area of operations. By establishing the main operating base at the 156th Wing for the exercise, the 23rd AEW along with participating nation partners were able to execute rapid air mobility tactics in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and the U.S. Virgin Island due to Puerto Rico’s strategic location in the Caribbean island chain.
“Further solidifying the relevance of our strategic location,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Eduardo Gonzalez, the 156th Wing installation deployment officer. “It doesn't matter from what part of the U.S. you are, we are still the closest to the south and there is no way that any other unit will get to the south faster than departing from our airfield.”
In addition to location, the Puerto Rico Air National Guard has both manpower and resources to execute independent ACE missions and can provide logistical support for large-scale exercises. From planning, coordination, airfield operations, command and control, hangar space, transportation, fuel and security, the PRANG successfully managed the logistical support to ensure the training objectives of Operation Forward Tiger 2023 were achieved.
An A-10C Thunderbolt II prepares to depart the 156th Wing, Muñiz Air National Guard Base, Carolina, Puerto Rico as another A-10C Thunderbolt II flies above after taking off on February 22, 2023. The Puerto Rico Air National Guard provided logistical support, command and control, airfield operations support and hangar space during Operation Forward Tiger exercise, which provides joint training and improves readiness of U.S. and partner nation military personnel through interoperability training. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Gisselle Toro Caraballo.)
“By supporting this mission, we prove why the PRANG is relevant and why our flight line needs to be open,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Carlos Perez, the Plans and Integration Office superintendent. “We have not only been supporting, but also learning from each other, providing our experience in how to operate with limited resources and that further enhances the execution of what ACE is all about.”
The Air Force plans to continue developing and utilizing multi-capable airmen in future operations, recognizing their vital role in modern military operations around the globe. Through multinational total force exercises, the Air Force can train Airmen to perform a wide variety of tasks to effectively respond to changing situations quickly.
"This exercise was a great opportunity to showcase interoperability and capabilities of our multi-capable airmen," said U.S. Air Force Col. Evaristo M. Orengo, 156th Wing commander. "These airmen are truly the backbone of our Air Force, and their ability to perform a variety of tasks in contested environments makes them invaluable in any situation."
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