Sunday, June 14, 2015

Airmen show off importance of airpower to Saber Strike distinguished visitors

by Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales
U.S. Air Force in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

6/14/2015 - RIGA, Latvia -- The Airmen of the Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania Air National Guard took to the skies with Latvian leaders June 10, 2015.

During exercise Saber Strike 15, DV and partnership days highlighted the importance of airpower and the tools utilized to ensure that airpower is available to those who need it. The exercise is designed to build partnerships and support regional stability in the Baltics with 14 nations and 6,000 service members participating.

Airmen from U.S. Air Forces in Europe and the Air National Guard hosted Latvian President Elect Raimonds VÄ“jonis, Latvian Armed Forces generals, and several local and national political leaders during the Michigan-Latvian Partnership Day.

The partnership and distinguished visitor day gave the Air Force and participants of Saber Strike 15 an opportunity to tell and show the work that they are doing to the general public, elected representatives and media outlets.

"Having them crawl (in the boom pod) and seeing the smiles on their face just like if they were a kid at an airshow and asking the same questions whether you are 5 years old or the president elect of Latvia is amazing," said Master Sgt. Joseph M. Penta, 171st Airlift Squadron boom operator. "You realize how great your job is when you have people that important wanting to do it."

The KC-135 aircrew and maintainers provided the distinguished visitors an insight as to how the KC-135 enables the A-10s, fighters, cargo and bombers to stay on station longer and continue their mission.

"Its great for the young guys to get out there and meet these people and show them what they do," said Senior Master Sgt. Birk Wolford, Michigan Air National Guard. "Crew chiefs love showing how we make the mission happen."

A day after the Partnership Day flight the visitors also witnessed what the refuelers enable while visiting the Adazi Training Area range. During a multinational offensive-defensive squad movement operations exercise, the A-10 Thunderbolt II, C-130 Super Hercules and B-52 Stratofortress provided close air support and shows of force for ground troops.

Saber Strike 15 is a multinational exercise designed to support the stability of the Baltic region by building interoperability between allie's ground and air assets to ensure seamless mission completion.

The visits provided up-close perspective to representatives from the participating nations on how Saber Strike 15 enables interoperability between the ally and partner nations and the importance of working together in order to ensure regional security.