by Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales
U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs
6/17/2015 - RIGA, Latvia -- Two
units out of Ramstein Air Base, Germany, working side by side are able
to complete a variety of missions. During exercise Saber Strike 15 they
were able to showcase their capabilities in and around the Baltic region
June 10 through 18.
Airmen from the 86th Airlift Wing and 435th Air Ground Operations Wing
were afforded training opportunities to complete three unique missions
during the exercise. They took off from Riga International Airport and
assess and secure a strip of land thousands of miles away, landed on
that field, drop cargo for a variety of purposes and then brought joint
and multinational friends along for some personnel jumps.
"We are able to really work together and accomplish the Saber Strike
objectives and everything seemed to work relatively seamlessly," said
Capt. Mark Wilson, 37th Airlift Squadron aircraft commander.
Saber Strike 15 is a multinational exercise with more than 6,000
participants and 13 nations designed to improve each others processes,
methods, build partnerships and promote stability in the Baltic area.
During the exercise, Airmen from the 435th Security Forces Squadron
parachuted out of a C-130J Super Hercules, belonging to the 86th AW, and
established an expeditionary airfield in Estonia. This event is
normally something they cannot do at home station due to airspace
"(Saber Strike) gives us a good chance to practice with the 435th CRG
and their airfield seizure team ... and that's an opportunity that we
definitely don't have in Germany," said Wilson.
The 435th Contingency Response Group, parent unit of the 435th SFS, is
comprised of 42 career fields and is the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and
Air Forces Africa's only force capable of establishing contingency
airfield operations and initial command and control.
"Saber Strike is a huge verification of CRG capability, to jump out of
an aircraft, assess the fields, secure the field and have follow on
aircraft land," said Maj. Joey Lubbers, 435th AGOW director of staff.
After the 435th AGOW secured the airfield the 37th AS tested their
ability to conduct austere landing in the middle of a grass field. After
completing the landing and taking off safely from Estonia they loaded
up with cargo and dropped necessary supplies to Washington Air National
Guard joint terminal attack controllers in Latvia. They were also
escorted by Maryland Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolts II and
performed simulated drops.
"We brought the mobility air forces to the fight," said Wilson. "We were
able to work with the ANG units, with different JTACs, and with the
host nation members of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. It was a great
exercise to strengthen our interoperability."
After exercising their capabilities both units took to the skies again
this time with more than 70 U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and Latvian
service members for a jump day event.
"It's a NATO building partnership event we get a lot of good training
out of it," said Lubbers. "We get to show them how we operate. How we
jump from the C-130 aircraft and the CRG is providing the jumpmaster for
that. Its just a great partnership opportunity for us to get drops
together here in Latvia and work with our NATO allies."
The two units time in Latvia and Saber Strike came to an end quickly but
both Lubbers and Wilson are grateful for the lessons the 435th AGOW and
37th AS were able to give and take from their NATO allies as they help
build interoperability and ensure a stable Baltic region.