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Colorado reservists lead air ops for multinational exercise

  • Published
  • By 302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Air Force Reservists from the 302nd Airlift Wing here directed the air operations portion of the largest airborne training exercise in Europe since the end of the Cold War.

Col. Erich Novak, 302nd AW vice commander, Lt. Col. Frank Wilde, 302nd Operations Group deputy commander, and Lt. Col. Bradley Ross, 302nd Operations Support Squadron, directed air operations for Swift Response 2015, a multinational training exercise at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 10- Sept. 1.

According to a U.S. Army Europe statement, Swift Response 2015 was the largest allied airborne training event on the continent since the end of the Cold War. More than 4,800 participants from 11 NATO nations, including Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States took part.

The U.S. Army Europe-led exercise is designed to integrate multiple allied nations' high-readiness forces to operate as a cohesive team and demonstrate the alliance's capability to rapidly deploy and operate in support of maintaining a strong and secure Europe, the statement further explains.

Five Air Force Reserve Command C-130 aircraft and crews -- three from the 934th AW, Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station, Minnesota and two from the 914th AW, Niagara Falls ARS, N.Y. also took part in the exercise.

Novak served as the air component exercise director for all U.S. Air Force members assigned to the exercise.

"This was an outstanding learning opportunity for all forces involved," said Novak. There hasn't been an exercise of this magnitude in a very long time. It was outstanding to see how each nation approached complex operations, learned each other's procedures and limits, and how to work together to get the mission done."

According to Novak, 61 aircraft from five countries flew more than 245 sorties. They completed more than 1,000 paratrooper jumps with U.S. and multinational paratroopers. They also airdropped more than 100,000 pounds of cargo in addition to airlifting hundreds of passengers and more than 300,000 pounds of cargo.

Wilde, along with Ross, served as deputy air component exercise directors. Wilde said their days were extremely busy and very challenging. The air component command and control worked 12-plus hour days providing real-time coordination as well as de-confliction of air assets for the exercise.

"With constant change to the plan, we were involved in communicating those changes to re-coordinate times and locations to have all of the players in place," explained Wilde.

Wilde said his previous Air Force Reserve assignments included working in joint operations center environments and that those experiences helped him support Swift Response in the command and control structure of a joint task force. 

The equipment brought to Swift Response is typical of an airborne unit that is demonstrating its ability to rapidly deploy from the U.S. The equipment includes individual and crew served weapon systems, High Mobility Wheeled Vehicles, artillery pieces, and engineering equipment.

The Swift Response scenario exercised a joint, multinational force on forcible entry operations that spanned four countries over a 72-hour period. The exercise demonstrated NATO forces and U.S. European Command's ability to penetrate contested air space and establish a forward base of operations. U.S. aircraft and helicopter raids in three countries set the stage for a large multinational airborne airfield seizure exercise.

As the largest mobility hub for U.S. Air Forces in Europe, the Ramstein AB flight line provided rapid access capabilities and a central location for allied nations to transition in-and-out during the exercise.

"It was a great opportunity to participate in a large-scale exercise focused on tactical airlift and supporting our primary customer, the U.S. Army and multinational ground forces," said Ross.

Swift Response 2015 is part of U.S. EUCOM's Joint Exercise Program and is designed to enhance joint combined interoperability with allied nations.