CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — If you’ve noticed a lot of military aircraft flying over Charleston – there’s a good reason for it.

The West Virginia Air National Guard and other military branches are in the middle of a joint operation called ‘Exercise Sentry Storm 2021.’

The joint training drill helps airmen and soldiers hone their skills needed in combat. “And so it’s a really good opportunity to rehearse, just like we would go fight,” said Brig. Gen. William Crane with the West Virginia National Guard.

The reason it’s held in the Mountain State is because of the state’s diverse terrain. “West Virginia is very unique in that we are able to have all the different venues and the sights nearby that we’re able to make things work logistically and just have it be successful,” said Maj. David Groom, the director of Sentry Storm 2021.

Servicemembers from the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, Navy, among other branches from several states are taking part in the exercise. “In all, there’s 8 different states that are being represented this week during the exercise with 16 different units,” added Groom.

“Learning to talk to each other, how we talk to each other, and what language they use versus what language the army or air forces uses,” said Crane about the dynamic exercise.

Crane adds that working with the different branches showcases their ability to work together. “Its just a great opportunity for us to learn to work together and train together with folks from around the country. It shows you the capabilities that we have.”

“It’s been a lot of fun all together. I’ve got to work and meet with some amazing people across all spectrums of the military and civilians alike. But it’s been tiring I got to say. I’m looking forward to Friday when we can call it quits and close out the Sentry Storm 2021 and immediately start Sentry Storm 2023,” adds Director Groom.

There are 200 direct participants in Exercise Sentry Storm 2021 with an additional 300 people indirectly supporting the efforts.