by Senior Airman Nicole Sikorski
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
7/20/2015 - PLOVDIV, Bulgaria -- Airmen
from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, went wheels up for a bilateral
training exercise with the Bulgarian air force, July 14 through 24.
More than 100 Ramstein Airmen deployed with three C-130J Super Hercules
from the 37th Airlift Squadron, to Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The deployment
allowed NATO allies to train together while maintaining joint readiness
and building interoperability capabilities.
"This is the sixth year we have participated in this exercise," said
Bulgarian air force Col. Petar Tsolov, 87th Division air force
headquarters tactical branch commander. "The training we do together is
very useful and beneficial to everyone involved. I can recall a few
years ago, there was mistrust between pilots, so missions were flown
separately. We as a smaller air force, have a lot to learn and the U.S.
is one of the best to learn from."
Airmen and Soldiers from more than 50 career fields came together to
carry out the mission, which not only strengthened NATO partnerships,
but highlighted a shared commitment to ensure global deterrence of
The deployment involved low-level training flights, unimproved surface
landing zone training on grass, airdrop training and nighttime flying.
According to U.S. Air Force Capt. Derek Patrick, 37th AS pilot and
exercise mission commander, this annual training is crucial to building
friendships, all while keeping up with the needs of Air Force training
"It's great to be able to practice night flying, low-level formations
and unimproved surface landing training out here," said Patrick. "These
components are critical because they allow us to operate anywhere that
(United States Air Forces in Europe) tasks us to be, at a moment's
Ensuring regional security and air operational readiness is a task that
cannot be accomplished alone, said Lt. Col. Ryan Barney, 435th
Contingency Response Group commander.
"Our Bulgarian partners are not just our allies, they are also our
friends," said Barney. "The days are in the past when the U.S. could
succeed alone, we can't do it by ourselves now, nor do we want to."
This annual exercise will continue to strengthen current bonds between
the U.S. and it's allies and aid in securing the future of NATO.