Exercise strengthens ties to Polish citizens

  • Published
  • By Maj. Richard K. Hall
  • 934th Airlift Wing

A warm meal, new friends, laughter and many, many shots of locally brewed moonshine; an atmosphere you would expect at any family meal. Except we weren’t with family, but you would have never known it from the hospitality we received. And this feeling of family and friendship was exactly the point of the Aviation Detachment (Av-Det) 16-2 Exercise. The meal, brought to us by a local farmers’ wives’ group, was to recognize this bolstered friendship by providing a traditional Polish dinner to a few of the members of the partner nations participating in the Av-Det exercise. I was one of the privileged few who were asked to participate in the event and I will say it was the highlight of my time in Poland.

And that dinner sums up the feelings this exercise was supposed to project; that we are not just here to reinforce our commitment to our NATO partners, but to primarily strengthen our ties to the people of Poland. Maj. Chris Rieland, deployed force commander, speaks of his time during the exercise, “Flying with our Polish counterparts, we gained essential international aviation experience,” Rieland said of the mission. “The hospitality was truly welcoming. It gave us such a great opportunity to experience a wonderful culture and community.”

The exercise is part of NATO’s broader Operation Atlantic Resolve, involving numerous US forces spread throughout NATO Partner nations. Per US European Command, “Operation Atlantic Resolve is a demonstration of our continued commitment to the collective security of NATO and dedication to the enduring peace and stability in the region, in light of the Russian intervention in Ukraine specifically.” The Av-Det exercise, took place from Feb. 29-March 24 and supported this Operation with multinational collaboration by C-130Hs from the 934th Airlift Wing, Minneapolis, MN, C-130Js from the 86th Airlift Wing, Ramstein AB, Germany, and Airmen from the Polish Air Force at Powidz AB, Poland.

The daily, fast-paced missions provide invaluable training to the Airmen of every unit participating. From airdrop of all shapes and sizes, paratrooper training, low level flying, nighttime maneuvers and threat reaction, with most of these procedures combined into just a single mission. Cooperative effort of the of not just the Air Force Reserve and Active Duty force, but those of NATO partners as well, providing a true global total force.