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NEWS | Feb. 20, 2024

Guam Air Guard’s Security Forces Squadron participates in Cope North

By MARK SCOTT Guam National Guard

About 20 Airmen from the Guam Air National Guard’s 254th Security Forces Squadron “Defenders” are on active-duty orders to secure fighter jets operating from the Guam International Airport during Cope North 24, during the month of February. Among those charged with the security mission are Master Sgts. Jordanna Escobar and Misty Palomo, commanded by Lt. Col. Stephen Leon Guerrero.

“Our mission is to perform airfield security including entry control points, roving patrols, and a base defense operations center,” said Escobar.

The Airmen are working out of a newly acquired Domestic Operations Trailer, which houses office space for computer stations and communications equipment, exterior floodlights, and an arms room to store weapons. The work being performed by the Defenders allows pilots participating in Cope North 24 to integrate with civilian airports, enabling more options for takeoff and landing during Cope North 24, part of the Air Force’s concept of agile combat employment.

Cope North 24 is a multinational, U.S. Pacific Air Forces-sponsored, field training exercise focused on airborne integration for large-force employment and agile combat employment. Aimed to further integrate Ally and partner contributions towards enhancing security and stability to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific, approximately 1700 U.S. Airmen, Marines, and Sailors are training alongside 700 Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Royal Australian Air Force, French Air and Space Force, Royal Canadian Air Force and Republic of Korea Air Force service members. By the end of the exercise, about 85 allied aircraft will have flown 1400 missions across three islands and six airfields.

Lt. Col. Stephen Leon Guerrero, commander of the 254th SFS, expressed the importance and pride with which his defenders have volunteered for this mission. “Participating in named exercises like Cope North gives our Airmen an opportunity to see their critical role in not only the defense of Guam and the Marianas, but how we fit in the larger National Defense Strategy and the ACE concept. It gives us a sense of purpose and pride in our role as Defenders of our Island, and our free way of life,” said Leon Guerrero.

According to Master Sgt. Palomo, being from Guam helped smooth the process working with civilian counterparts with the Guam airport and added a sense of meaning to the mission. “We’re all from here, and we all know the mission,” said Palomo. “It’s nice to already have that relationship with our civilian counterparts, which is part of our culture, and it just feels natural. We’re so proud to do this to represent our island and the United States Air Force.”


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