A Continued Partnership: Falcon Defender 24

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Cassandra Johnson
  • 134th Air Refueling Wing

Falcon Defender brings together members from both the Tennessee Air National Guard and the Bulgarian Air Force for a bilateral training exercise that fosters interoperability and enhances operational capacity and ability as well as security measures.

“This year we are working on flight line operations, alarm responses, and entry control points, and we are looking at how they train and we are looking at how we train and we are combining the two,” said Master Sgt. Khristian Pickett, acting duty status guardsman superintendent, 134th SFS. “It’s a lot of cross talk and how each one of us can get better and benefit from working along side each other.” 

The week’s training centered around the Base Defense Operations Center (BDOC), alarm response, and Entry Control Point (ECP) operations. The components focused on the importance of communication when securing a base and it’s assets, specifically relaying what is happening at the scene so they are able to adequately employee resources to the area. All of the training from the week culminated in a capstone where Airmen from both the Tennessee ANG and Bulgarian air force worked together to complete scenarios provided by the training instructors.

“The goal of the capstone is to combine all three of the training stations together and complete scenarios with our counterparts so they can see how each tie in together,” said Master Sgt. Josh Bruglio, lead planner for Falcon Defender 24 and 134th SFS Operations Superintendent. “The goal is that everyone gets something out of this training, if they’ve never run a BDOC before they are getting that opportunity or if they’ve never been on alarm response they are getting to respond to those situations and getting to take care of each scenario we throw at them.

With ECP operations, if they haven’t done it a lot it is going to give them the strength and knowledge to continue to execute those operations without us being here.”

The Tennessee National Guard has had a bilateral agreement with the Republic of Bulgaria since 1993 under the U.S. National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program. Since that time guardsmen from Tennessee have worked hand in hand with their Bulgarian counterparts to foster relationships between the two countries. Events like Falcon Defender 24 have contributed to a long lasting relationship and sharing of operating procedures so both countries can be better together.

“The importance of establishing these relationships and to continuously build on them is so that we always have that line of communication whether we are here in Plovdiv or back in Tennessee,” said Bruglio. “It’s a tremendous honor for me to be able to be in the position to build these relationships with their leadership and to be a part of something on such a grand scale, it’s just been a great experience to be a part of.”