by Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
6/5/2015 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Wolf
Pack pilots practiced combined flying operations with their Republic of
Korea Air Force counterparts during Exercise Buddy Wing 15-4 here, June
1 through 5.
During this iteration of Buddy Wing, the 8th Fighter Wing hosted Airmen
from the 123rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Wing, Seosan Air
Base, to train alongside the Wolf Pack's 35th Fighter Squadron as they
sharpened their air combat capabilities together at Kunsan Air Base.
"This is my first Buddy Wing, and I gained a lot of insight on how the
U.S. and ROK air forces integrate together," said 1st Lt. Brad Leffler,
35th FS F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot. "We train and work together, and we
also learn from our strengths and weaknesses. If the time comes to take
the fight north, we will work better as a combined force."
During Buddy Wing, the two countries' pilots operated as one force as
they integrated mission planning, briefing, flying and debriefing
together, while practicing air-to-air and air-to-ground tactics.
"We may operate differently during the execution of various formations,
but we train on very similar tactics," Leffler said. "At the end of the
day, we all work together to accomplish the same mission. The
fundamental purpose of [ROK and U.S. Air Force] practicing together is
to tighten up our combined wartime readiness."
Capt. Bong Seop Kim, 123rd TFS KF-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, discussed
how Buddy Wing 15-4 provided a great opportunity for ROKAF and U.S. Air
Force pilots to exchange knowledge on their tactics and weapons system
"When we work together as a combined military, we can exert such power
that enables us to always be ready," Kim said. "We may face obstacles,
to include the language barrier and other challenges during combined
operations, but we overcome these barriers through continued discussions
and understanding each other's differences and cultures."
According to Capt. Matthew Kimmel, 35th FS F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot
and Buddy Wing 15-4 project officer, an additional aspect of
strengthening combined, allied military operations is enhancing personal
"This exercise provided not only the tactical integration with our
counterparts, but also provided an opportunity to create new friendships
as we - the U.S. Air Force and ROKAF - got to know each other at
various social events outside of the flying operations here," he said.
Kim added how working and spending time together increases interoperability and combat capabilities.
"As two countries, we create and carry out combined operations to deter
the same enemy," Kim said. "By coordinating with each other through
programs such as this Buddy Wing training as well as other combined
operations, these experiences add to the success of combined operations
and the continued success of the ROK-U.S. Alliance."