News: Poland, US unite during two-week aerial training
Story by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee
LASK AIR BASE, Poland -- Poland continues to build its relationship with the United States as both nations' air forces integrate their capabilities in a joint theater security cooperation event July 15-26, 2013.
This marks the third time U.S. aircraft have flown into Poland as part of a partnership-building initiative that began in October 2012.
"We are demonstrating the commitment that we've made to Poland," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Matthew Spears, commander of Detachment 1, 52nd Operations Group.
The aviation detachment began in 2011 as a discussion between the U.S. ambassador to Poland and the Polish Defense Minister. In June of that year, the two signed a memorandum authorizing and creating the detachment. Since the detachment's opening in 2012, both militaries have worked to solidify the positions and create a long-standing, enduring American presence in the country.
"We consider them one of our top allies, and it's an ally that we want to improve our relationship with and partnership with," Spears said. "So, the aviation detachment is a mechanism with which we can strengthen that partnership."
The detachment is the administrative hub of an aerial training program and is part of the 52nd Fighter Wing from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. For this rotation, the U.S. aircraft are from the 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy — a major air combat asset of U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
During each rotation, the detachment balances the training needs of participating aircraft. Both Aviano and Lask employ the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft, and some of the training will focus on communication effectiveness and familiarization of techniques.
"We get to learn from our allies," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Jason Monaco, officer in charge of the 510th FS during the rotation. "We get to train with them at all levels, whether it's the pilots flying the jets, the maintenance guys turning the wrenches or the guys building the bombs — we get to see what the Polish air force does.
"And that's something we don't get when we're just working with each other back home," he added.
Spears said the Polish government's hospitality has been indicative of their eagerness to share security efforts across Europe, and hosting the U.S. military in their country is not the first time that Poland has demonstrated their commitment to peace.
"When you look at the history of the two nations, you find that this isn't a new partnership," Spears said. "It's a partnership and heritage that dates back to our county's existence. Really, we're continuing on those traditions and that heritage, because we do value Poland as a nation and a partner in NATO."