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Maine Air National Guard Supports NORAD Exercise

  • Published
  • By Maine Air National Guard
  • 265th Combat Communication Squadron

Members of the Maine Air National Guard recently supported the North American Aerospace Defense Command's (NORAD) Exercise Amalgam Dart 21-1 to retain and improve readiness to defend North America across all approaches. To support this effort the 265th Combat Communications Squadron was tasked with supplying tactical communication networks at four geographically separated locations spanning the Arctic.

Exercise Amalgam Dart ran from June 10-18, 2021, with operations ranging across the Arctic from the Beaufort Sea to Thule, Greenland. Amalgam Dart 21-1 provided NORAD the opportunity to hone continental defense skills as Canadian and U.S. forces operated together in the Arctic. Involving all three NORAD regions (Alaskan, Canadian, and Continental U.S.) the exercise featured Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18s, CC-150Ts, CC-130s, CH-146s, CH-149s, and a CP-140; and U.S. Air Force B-52s, F-22s, F-16s, KC-135s, KC-10s, and E-3s.

In early June, members of South Portland's 265th left to support the ten-day mission. They were divided into groups and positioned at Thule Air Base in Greenland, Canadian Forces Bases in Cold Lake, Alberta, Goose Bay in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Yellow Knife in the Northwest Territories. They arrived at these destinations aboard a KC-135 from Bangor's 101st Air Refueling Wing.

With the 265th's help, communication networks supported dozens of military aircraft and ground coordination elements participating in the exercise. Designed to train and test our capabilities, Amalgam Dart 21-1 supports Operation Noble Eagle, which applies to all air defense missions in North America.

"Participating in international exercises like this allow us to see just how effective our capabilities are in supporting large-scale operations," said Maj. Brenden Westin, the 265th's officer-in-charge for the exercise. "This was an intense exercise where we played an important part in ensuring NORAD's ability to effectively communicate in an operational Arctic environment. While many of us have deployed overseas in the past, this demonstrated the 265th's importance in protecting North America."

The 265th's participation was almost cut short. At 2 a.m. on June 10, a fire destroyed the lodging quarters reserved for Westin and members of his team, along with their personal effects for the exercise. Canadian forces at Cold Lake secured lodging and provided them with new uniforms and essential personal items for the duration of their stay. For the 265th stopping was not an option, as they knew replacements would not arrive in time to support the exercise.

Amalgam Dart 21-1 concluded on June 18 with the 265th returning to Maine the following day on another KC-135 from the 101st.

"We are all proud of the immeasurable contributions the Maine Air National Guard made to the exercise," said Maj. Gen. Douglas A. Farnham, Maine's adjutant general. "Additionally, the teamwork demonstrates what this exercise was about; from what the Canadians did after the fire for the 265th Combat Communications Squadron, to how our 101st Air Refueling Wing flew them to and from their various locations."

NORAD remains vigilant to the continued 24-7 defense of North America. A bi-national Canadian and American command, NORAD employs a network of space-based, aerial and ground-based sensors, air-to-air refueling tankers and fighter aircraft on alert, controlled by a sophisticated command and control network to deter, detect, and defend against aerial threats that originate outside or within North American airspace.

For additional imagery from exercise Amalgam Dart 21-1, visit