Sentinel Dragon 22-1: Defending the homeland, assuring allies, and accelerating integration

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. Michael Lutton, 20th Air Force commander
  • 20th Air Force

From mid-December 2021 until late February 2022, innovative leadership teams across 20th Air Force executed Sentinel Dragon 22-1 at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming; Kirtland AFB, New Mexico; Malmstrom AFB, Montana and Minot AFB, North Dakota.

Sentinel Dragon is a Numbered Air Force-wide readiness event combining three inter-related lines of effort: innovation; tactics, techniques, and procedures; and large force exercises all designed to increase readiness and ensure mission assurance while developing integrated lethality.

Sentinel Dragon 22-1 scenarios centered around utility and communication disruption designed to challenge readiness and combat force generation from the installations across 20th Air Force. Kirtland AFB and our three missile complexes, in total, equal to the combined size of the state of South Carolina—a landmass easily encompassing the distance from Kadena Air Base, Japan to Taipei, Taiwan or Ramstein AB, Germany to Warsaw, Poland.

Sentinel Dragon 22-1 contributed to meeting the objectives of Action Order C: Competition from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr.’s Action Orders to Accelerate Change Across the Air Force.

This action order explains that Airmen need to understand their role in the long-term strategic power competitions between the United States, Russia and China. The Air Force must also improve its understanding of competitors’ ambitions and ways of war to inform how it organizes, trains and equips Airmen.

Like forces assigned to the Indo-Pacific and European theaters of operation, exceptional leaders across the 20th Air Force demonstrated agile combat employment concepts to sustain critical utilities and communication nodes necessary to generate combat power. When current concepts were not effective, innovative teams developed concepts to maintain force readiness and generate combat power.

Lessons learned remain critical to growth in innovation; tactics, techniques and procedures; and refining large force exercises. Sentinel Dragon 22-1 focused our team’s thoughts on refining and focusing installation defense plans to account for early utility disruption: early disruption targeted at unit readiness and the ability to generate combat power. Physical security remains THE priority focus for all our nuclear units; however, installation defense plans must account for cyber resilience and defense across our installations.

Sentinel Dragon 22-1 provided an environment for Airmen to innovate, refine and develop tactics, techniques, and procedures to generate combat power critical to deterrence and mission assurance with the backdrop of long-term strategic power competition between the U.S., Russia and China. The Airmen of 20th Air Force remain critical to defending the homeland, assuring allies, and accelerating change with the sole purpose of deterring strategic power conflict.