Military News

Friday, April 03, 2015

ANG general welcomes F-15 deployment to Europe

by Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane

4/3/2015 - LEEUWARDEN AIR BASE, Netherlands -- The second theater security package consisting of twelve F-15C Eagle fighter aircraft arrived at Leeuwarden Air Base, Netherlands, March 31 through April 1, marking the beginning of their six-month deployment to Europe.

The 125th Fighter Wing, Florida Air National Guard, Jacksonsville, Fla., leads this first ANG theater security package to deploy in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The aircraft and Airmen are based out of units in Florida, Oregon, California, Massachusetts and various bases throughout Europe. Regardless of their origin, together, they make up the 159th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron.

Maj. Gen. Eric Vollmecke, ANG assistant to the commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, welcomed the Airmen and stressed the importance of the TSP in Europe during a visit April 3.

"We are here to reinforce to our allies that the security of Europe is a priority for the U.S.," Vollmecke explained to the 159th EFS.

The squadron will fly with NATO allies and support OAR, a demonstration of U.S. European Command and United States Air Forces in Europe's continued commitment to the collective security of NATO and dedication to the enduring peace and stability in the region.

Gen. Frank Gorenc, USAFE-AFAFRICA commander, has explained that U.S. Air Force's forward presence in Europe, augmented by a rotational force like the TSP, allows us to work with our allies to develop and improve ready air forces capable of maintaining regional security.

"If you look at where we were 20 years ago," Vollmecke said, "and how many aircraft we had in theater, we are down to a fraction of that, yet we have more NATO allies than we did 20 years ago, so we must continue to train with them and learn from them."

Vollmecke explained that every NATO ally brings its own strengths to the table and that one of ours is our air-to-air capability.

"It is very important for us to exercise that capability with our NATO allies and I think we can all benefit from this experience," Vollmecke said. "Our NATO allies are very capable aviators, and have great air forces. There are many things we can learn from them, especially from their innovation. They may not have the resources that the U.S. has, but they have done an incredible job of maintaining an impressive level of readiness."

The previous TSP deployed to Europe in February, but this deployment is slightly different due to the fact that the ANG is the lead.

"This TSP package is a great example of a total force deployment with Airmen participating from the active, guard and reseve," said Vollmecke. "The Airmen here come from various stateside bases as well as Euopean based units and together they have formed this expeditionary fighter squadron."

While this is the first time the ANG has deployed to Europe as a TSP, these types of deployments are not new to the Air Force. Fighter squadrons have been deploying like this to the Pacific since 2004.

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