McConnell crews, aircraft participate in Exercise Vigilant Shield

Staff Sgt. Joshua Hood marshals a KC-135 Stratotanker for takeoff during exercise Vigilant Shield 15 at 5 Wing Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Oct. 23, 2014. The Vigilant Shield field training exercise is a bi-national NORAD Command exercise which provides realistic training and practice for American and Canadian forces in support of respective national strategy for North America’s defense. NORAD ensures U.S. and Canadian air sovereignty through a network of alert fighters, tankers, airborne early warning aircraft, and ground-based air defense assets cued by interagency and defense surveillance radars. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Colby L. Hardin/Released)

Staff Sgt. Joshua Hood marshals a KC-135 Stratotanker for takeoff during exercise Vigilant Shield 15 at 5 Wing Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Oct. 23, 2014. The Vigilant Shield field training exercise is a bi-national NORAD Command exercise which provides realistic training and practice for American and Canadian forces in support of respective national strategy for North America’s defense. NORAD ensures U.S. and Canadian air sovereignty through a network of alert fighters, tankers, airborne early warning aircraft, and ground-based air defense assets cued by interagency and defense surveillance radars. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Colby L. Hardin/Released)

Tech. Sgt. Matt Ziegelbein, 18th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, operates the boom while refueling an F-15 Eagle during exercise Vigilant Shield 15 at 5 Wing Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Oct. 24, 2014. The Vigilant Shield field training exercise is a bi-national NORAD Command exercise which provides realistic training and practice for American and Canadian forces in support of respective national strategy for North America’s defense. NORAD ensures U.S. and Canadian air sovereignty through a network of alert fighters, tankers, airborne early warning aircraft, and ground-based air defense assets cued by interagency and defense surveillance radars. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Colby L. Hardin/Released

Tech. Sgt. Matt Ziegelbein, 18th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, operates the boom while refueling an F-15 Eagle during exercise Vigilant Shield 15 at 5 Wing Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Oct. 24, 2014. The Vigilant Shield field training exercise is a bi-national NORAD Command exercise which provides realistic training and practice for American and Canadian forces in support of respective national strategy for North America’s defense. NORAD ensures U.S. and Canadian air sovereignty through a network of alert fighters, tankers, airborne early warning aircraft, and ground-based air defense assets cued by interagency and defense surveillance radars. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Colby L. Hardin/Released

A CF-18 Hornet, 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron, is refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker from McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., during exercise Vigilant Shield 15 at 5 Wing Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Oct. 25, 2014. The Vigilant Shield field training exercise is a bi-national NORAD Command exercise which provides realistic training and practice for American and Canadian forces in support of respective national strategy for North America’s defense. NORAD ensures U.S. and Canadian air sovereignty through a network of alert fighters, tankers, airborne early warning aircraft, and ground-based air defense assets cued by interagency and defense surveillance radars. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Colby L. Hardin/Released)

A CF-18 Hornet, 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron, is refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker from McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., during exercise Vigilant Shield 15 at 5 Wing Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Oct. 25, 2014. The Vigilant Shield field training exercise is a bi-national NORAD Command exercise which provides realistic training and practice for American and Canadian forces in support of respective national strategy for North America’s defense. NORAD ensures U.S. and Canadian air sovereignty through a network of alert fighters, tankers, airborne early warning aircraft, and ground-based air defense assets cued by interagency and defense surveillance radars. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Colby L. Hardin/Released)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Airmen from bases across the U.S. joined forces with multiple units from the Royal Canadian Air Force for Vigilant Shield 2015 training exercise, at 5 Wing Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Oct. 20 through Oct. 28.

McConnell Air Force Base's role was to lead the tanker unit, and provide aerial refueling to the contingent aircraft that were also participating.

The exercise was the first time U.S and Canadian forces conducted North American air defense operations since the Cold War.

"Recent events around the world emphasize the necessity of ensuring North American Aerospace Defense Command is able to quickly launch defensive air power," said Capt. Michael Molloy, 22nd Maintenance Squadron fabrication flight commander. "Validating our ability to operate from Goose Bay provides vital information to NORAD and Air Force planners."

This exercise differed from other exercises that are run solely by McConnell because it took many different people and parts working together to make this run as smoothly as possible.

"The exercise was even more successful than anticipated, achieving a 100% on-time departure rate, due largely to the excellent team of maintainers we were provided," added Molloy.

Airmen from McConnell operated at a high pace completing six preflight and 24 through flight inspections during the exercise. Which helped launched every jet on time.

"This exercise was important because it is preparing us to defend our home against our enemies with the help of our neighboring allies," said Airman 1st Class Colt Hewitt, 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental journeyman. "This was my first time participating in an exercise of this nature, and I was very excited to be a part of it."

About 550 military members and over 20 military aircraft were deployed to 5 Wing Goose Bay.

"This exercise is an outstanding opportunity to improve NORAD and United States Northern Command operational effectiveness and Canadian and U.S. interoperability, ultimately better preparing ourselves to carry out the commands' missions," said Canadian Forces Army Col. James Wall, deputy director of joint training and exercises for NORAD and U.S. Northern Command. "Exercises and training events like VIGILANT SHIELD are the cornerstone of preparedness which in turn ensures the readiness of our forces should they ever be called upon."