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Western Air Defense Sector gets new training facility

Ribbon cuttng on the Western Air Defense Sector’s new Mission Training Center with WADS leadership Oct. 5, 2023, on JBLM. Photo credit: Kimberly Burke

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD - The Western Air Defense Sector celebrated the opening of its new Mission Training Center during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 5.

The Continental North American Aerospace Defense Command Region deputy commander, Royal Canadian Air Force Maj. Gen. Sean Boyle, and the Washington Air National Guard commander, Brig. Gen. Gent Welsh, cut the ribbon and toured the $2 million state-of-the-art facility. 

The new center provides high-end simulation capabilities for airmen who manage and operate Command and Control Battle Management Systems to defend the U.S. homeland under Operation NOBLE EAGLE.

Operation NOBLE EAGLE is the name given to all NORAD aerospace warning, control, and defense missions in North America. Through Operation NOBLE EAGLE, NORAD deters, detects, and defeats potential threats to U.S. and Canadian airspace 24/7/365.

The Washington National Guard's 225th Air Defense Group is the force behind the Western Air Defense Sector, providing operations personnel and support to maintain a network of 32 systems and more than 1,000 circuits that integrate more than 200 radars, 600 radios, and 20 data link nodes across the continental United States to perform air defense.

The MTC is a replica of the WADS operations floor.

"It gives WADS a facility away from our active operations floor to train our operators in complex scenarios," said Col. Antony Braun, 225th Air Defense Group commander. "We have been doing all our training on our live operations floor for decades. The MTC not only gives WADS a place to train that is comparable to our actual operations floor but also allows us to link virtually with other units and train together."

The MTC layout also facilitates a new crew employment concept: the Battle Management Team (BMT). Air defense operations have been organized functionally for decades, with crews oriented toward providing air picture management, weapons control, or datalink connectivity, according to Lt. Col. John Manthe, 225th Air Defense Squadron director of operations. 

"The BMT is comprised of crew members from multiple specialties and provides a scalable battle management capability matched to a specific geographic area or functional problem set, such as defensive counterair or dynamic targeting," Manthe said. 

The close coordination between crew members reduces communications overhead, shortens kill chains, and postures a small team to have a big impact in the battlespace.

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