The South Dakota National Guard’s 28th annual Golden Coyote training exercise, which began on June 9 in Rapid City and the southern Black Hills, includes military contingents from Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Suriname, and the U.K.
The two-week training exercise, “in a realistic training environment,” according to the Defense Department, supports both overseas contingency operations and homeland defense. There are also 37 units representing 17 states participating in Golden Coyote, and I suppose for them, it is preparation for combat. The Rapid City Journal reports that Golden Coyote “re-create the stress of combat and mixture of civilian, tourist and wildlife populations soldiers encounter in war theaters such as Iraq and Afghanistan, all while training with foreign soldiers.”
It used to be quite rare and even noteworthy when foreign military training took place on American soil. Of course there were always exceptions, like regular German Air Force pilot training in the American southwest, and aviation training associated with the Red Flag exercise series has come to include regular NATO and U.S. allied participants. In July, as an example, F-16 from the United Arab Emirates and KFIRs from Colombia will participate in Red Flag 12-4 in Nevada.
So do they really mean homeland defense when they describe one of the training objectives of Golden Coyote? Do they mean that somehow it is important to have multinational partners, even Canada, to train for the military defense of the United States?
I’m agnostic one way or another on this, but it seems to me that this entire subject, bearing upon command and sovereignty and foreign policies, bears greater scrutiny.
Another sign of the times regarding preparing for war with Iran: Last week, the Air Force installed a new long-range air surveillance radar in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to the 380th Air Wing.
Of course the press release on the defending airmen of the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron from the Ohio National Guard makes no mention of Iran or the UAE. The radar is being deployed to the “Arabian Gulf” to an unnamed country.
“Our job is to constantly watch the skies,” said Lt. Col. Steven A. Breitfelder, 727th EACS commander, deployed from Blue Ash Air National Guard Station, Ohio. “Our operators defend the Arabian Gulf and its surrounding countries by monitoring the area for enemy aircraft.”
The 380th Wing is deployed at the hyper-modern Al Dhafra Airbase, located approximately 20 miles south of Abu Dhabi and operated by the United Arab Emirates Air Force.
According to the 380th Wing’s official fact sheet, the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing was reactivated on January 25, 2002, but Global Hawk UAVs and other U.S. aircraft started operating from Al Dhafra almost immediately after 9/11. The 380th’s mission is to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and aerial refueling, the official fact sheet says, and currently the wing is comprised of five groups and 18 squadrons. The Open Source GEOINT blog has in incomparable layout and description of the base, just in case you wondered whether there is any real secret involved here.
Al Dhafra air base has been almost continuously occupied by the United States since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, some secret. The Air Force says the defenders have “another arrow in their quiver,” a freudian slip no doubt. I’m sure Iran sees it as an arrow.