News: 12 F-16s, 200 U.S. personnel arrive in Poland
Story by Airman 1st Class Ryan Conroy
LASK AIR BASE, Poland - In an attempt to augment U.S. military presence in the region, twelve 555th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcons and approximately 200 personnel assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy, arrived at the U.S. Air Force Aviation Detachment here, March 14-15.
At the invitation of the government of Poland, U.S. Air Forces in Europe will be conducting an off site training event that demonstrates the U.S.’s commitment to collective defense responsibilities under NATO’s objectives.
“One of NATO’s objectives is to develop bonds so if something happens, and NATO has to take action in a real-world environment, you want to have trained together in advance,” said Lt. Col. John Peterson, 555th Fighter Squadron commander. “You want to develop those tactics, techniques and procedures before you’re in a combat environment.”
Peterson explains that without a consistent training platform, the U.S. risks the incapability to develop and analyze strengths and weaknesses with partnering countries.
“The devil is in the details,” said Peterson. “Unless you figure out how to work together at a tactical level—from the squadron commander to the junior airman turning wrenches--you lose out on the opportunity to know each other’s strengths and develop your weaknesses.”
The objectives for the off site training are in line with the aviation detachment’s original intent, which is to remain ready to operate across the range of military operations with precise, full-spectrum capability, according to Maj. Matthew Spears, U.S. Air Force Aviation Detachment commander.
“The aviation detachment consists of a small team of U.S. Airmen, in country, on a prolonged basis to act as a coordinating element for joint training between the U.S. and Poland,” said Spears. “This is why the AvDet is in place and this is why we are an active detachment.”
The detachment was activated in November 2012, and marked the first enduring presence of U.S. military members on Polish soil. The Aviation Detachment’s presence in Poland makes it possible to host multiple allied Air Force elements and serve as a regional hub for air training and multi-national exercises. They also facilitate and enable combined U.S. and Polish training and exercises to increase air support to NATO.
The current presence of common assets recently obtained at the detachment marks another milestone in the rotational deployment of U.S. military resources since 2012.
“With the arrival of the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the C-130 Hercules in Poland we have seen a strengthening in our partnership between the U.S. and Poland, which is in line with making us interoperable,” said Spears.