News: Joint training validates NATO peace commitment
Story by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee
LASK AIR BASE, Poland - Poland and the United States continue their aerial training at Detachment 1, 52nd Operations Group here as they move into the operational aspect of the flying program.
The training is catered to create a realistic wartime environment, and the mission planning is a collaboration between the leadership of the Polish air force and the aviation detachment.
The planners create air tasking orders, which contain information essential to the pilots operating the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft at this training. The ATO details mission objectives for the joint team to complete — ranging from destruction of enemy air defenses to close-air support for friendly ground forces.
The taskings are then relayed to the pilots and their team, who must interpret the data and coordinate the response. In this case, it is an opportunity for the Polish and U.S. pilots to share and exchange their tactics to ensure mission success.
"We have very similar procedures but different tactics," said Polish air force Lt. Col. Pawel Marcinkowski, 6th Fighter Squadron commander and an F-16 veteran of six years. "Each time we have the Americans over, we learn something new. We begin to know what to expect and are not surprised when we fly together."
The scenarios become more complex as the training continues throughout the week. To complete the more advanced objectives, the allied force must work seamlessly while airborne. Stress-testing the integration effort during this training allows the pilots to take advantage of a unique opportunity to strengthen air lethality for real-world contingencies across the globe.
"Poland is a pretty new NATO player," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Brad Zimmerman, 510th Fighter Squadron from Aviano Air Base, Italy. "And this training adds validity to our posture. The NATO alliance would lack credibility if the partners never practiced or worked together. Building relationships, like what we're doing with this training, ensures we are a reliable force against aggressors."
The training continues until July 26, 2013, and is the third rotation of U.S. aircraft to Poland.