NATO — Multinational Cooperation During NATO Training Event

Ram­stein – On 29 and 30 May, Head­quar­ters Allied Air Com­mand Ram­stein (HQ AC Ram­stein) com­plet­ed the Baltic Region Train­ing Event (BRTE) XII at the Adazi Train­ing Area some 15 kms south­east of Riga, Latvia. The event which was aimed at pro­vid­ing train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties to NATO’s For­ward Air Con­trollers (FACs) and Air Polic­ing assets.

US Air Force A‑10 two­ship by Mar­cus Fül­ber
Source: NATO
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Assets involved in the FAC train­ing were French Mirage 2000 fight­ers (on 29 May), Eston­ian L‑39 jets, a Lat­vian Mi-17 heli­copter, Amer­i­can A‑10 air­craft (on 30 May). These air­craft flew Close Air Sup­port (CAS) mis­sion sim­u­lat­ing sup­port of forces on the ground. Fly­ing out of Milden­hall in the Unit­ed King­dom a KC-135 tanker air­craft refu­elled the Mirage 2000 and the A‑10 in the air. The Pol­ish MiG-29 air­craft cur­rent­ly exe­cut­ing NATO’s Baltic Air Polic­ing mis­sion at the Lithuan­ian Air Base Šiau­li­ai ben­e­fit­ed from spe­cial Quick Reac­tion Alert (Inter­cept) train­ing with the A‑10 on the sec­ond day and per­formed a so-called touch-and-go manoeu­vre at Riga Inter­na­tion­al Air­port, Latvia. 

“We take away a lot of prac­ti­cal ben­e­fit from BRTE XII,” said Lieu­tenant Colonel Leszek Błach, com­man­der of the Pol­ish Mil­i­tary Con­tin­gent “ORLIK 4” at Šiau­li­ai, Lithua­nia, “with the touch-and-go we showed our pres­ence in the Baltic region.” 

“The expe­ri­ence of air-to-air refu­elling on a US Air Force tanker was very good,” said Cap­tain Gae­tan Her­me­tet, French BRTE XII project offi­cer, “our Mirages flew a CAS mis­sion and also coop­er­at­ed with the Baltic FACs on the ground.”

“This was an expe­ri­ence of a life­time to fly the A‑10 Thun­der­bolt II to the Baltic Region and con­duct inter­cepts with Pol­ish MiG-29s,” said Lieu­tenant Colonel John Liller, 81st Fight­er Squadron pilot, who led the A‑10 two­ship, “our objec­tive was to ful­ly inte­grate A‑10 tac­tics, tech­niques, and pro­ce­dures with ground assets and bol­ster bonds of coop­er­a­tion for future exer­cis­es. This could not have been done with­out the sup­port from the men and women of the 52nd Fight­er Wing, the KC-135 from Roy­al Air Force Milden­hall, and the out­stand­ing job by the NATO FACs exe­cut­ing joint close air sup­port procedures.” 

“Refu­el­ing our allies in-flight helps solid­i­fy the cohe­sion that exists between our NATO com­mu­ni­ty,” said Colonel Kyle Voigt, 100th Air Refu­el­ing Wing vice com­man­der. “We’ve all gained valu­able train­ing from the mis­sions flown dur­ing this event, and we antic­i­pate many last­ing benefits.” 

It was the first time the Eston­ian L‑39s par­tic­i­pat­ed in a BRTE and ben­e­fit­ed from the train­ing with French, US and Pol­ish fight­er air­craft and allowed L‑39 pilots to gath­er expe­ri­ence at the multi­na­tion­al level 

BRTE XII was an extreme­ly suc­cess­ful train­ing event with all objec­tives met. We exe­cut­ed 100 per­cent of fly­ing mis­sions,” said Lieu­tenant Colonel Steven Behmer, head of the HQ AC Ram­stein FAC capa­bil­i­ty sec­tion who over­saw the train­ing pro­vid­ed to For­ward Air Con­troller teams from Esto­nia, Latvia and Lithua­nia. “The high­light of the train­ing event was the employ­ment of 30 mm can­non strafes from a two­ship of US Air Force A‑10 air­craft under the ter­mi­nal con­trol of Baltic FACs. This his­toric event demon­strat­ed NATO’s capa­bil­i­ty to effi­cient­ly inte­grate Air-Land-Inte­gra­tion ele­ments in a multi­na­tion­al com­plex tac­ti­cal environment.” 

Air Polic­ing is one aspect of NATO’s Smart Defence con­cept – a new way of think­ing about gen­er­at­ing mod­ern defence capa­bil­i­ties and coop­er­at­ing to devel­op, acquire and main­tain these capabilities. 

“Dur­ing NATO Chica­go Sum­mit the Baltic States were named as a good exam­ple of the imple­men­ta­tion of Smart Defence. This joint train­ing is yet anoth­er option for Latvia, Lithua­nia and Esto­nia to pro­vide their input to the Alliance in devel­op­ing this NATO pri­or­i­ty by sav­ing resources and offer­ing a com­plex train­ing pro­gramme in the Baltic coun­tries,” said Lat­vian Min­is­ter of Defence Artis Pabriks. 

HQ AC Ram­stein reg­u­lar­ly con­ducts these BRTEs in Latvia, Lithua­nia and Esto­nia reaf­firm­ing com­mit­ment and sol­i­dar­i­ty to the region. While some NATO coun­tries deploy their fight­er air­craft to ensure the ter­ri­to­r­i­al integri­ty of the three Baltic States, the lat­ter make avail­able air bases, air com­mand and con­trol enti­ties and crit­i­cal­ly need­ed capa­bil­i­ties like the FAC personnel. 

The next oppor­tu­ni­ty to train NATO FACs is sched­uled in the Czech Repub­lic and will occur in Sep­tem­ber dur­ing Exer­cise Ram­stein Rover 2012. 

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