COMUSAFE Visits Multinational Load Diffuser Exercise in Hungary

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Jordyn Sadowski
  • 180th Fighter Wing Ohio National Guard
General Tod Wolters, commander of United States Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, visited the Hungarian Defence Force’s 59th Air Base, Hungary, as part of a Distinguished Visitor Day, recognizing the efforts of six regional partners during Exercise Load Diffuser 2017 on Fri., June 2.

Approximately 400 military members from the United States, Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Czech Republic, including 200 Airmen from the Ohio National Guard, are participating in the largest air-to-air and air-to-ground exercise in Hungary, focused on conducting military-to-military engagements, interoperability and maintaining joint readiness.

“Here at Exercise Load Diffuser we have touched every mission in the air domain, from interdiction, to superiority, to strike, to surveillance, to lift and to command and control,” Wolters said. “And what we know after this exercise is that each and every one of our maintainers, operators and mission supporters will be that much more capable in their ability to defend the nation and the cause.”

DV Day, hosted by the Hungarian Air Force, brought together senior military and government officials from the U.S. Embassy, U. S. Air Force, Hungarian Defence Forces and Ohio National Guard to recognize the success of the exercise. The officials also took the opportunity to highlight Hungary's State Partnership Program with Ohio, as well as recognize eight military superior performers from the U.S., Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia.

Chief Master Sgt. Dan Baumert, a maintenance superintendent with the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing was one of eight military members to be recognized with a coin from Gen. Wolters at the event for his excellent performance.

“I had no idea I was receiving this coin but it is a tremendous honor and privilege,” said Baumert. “This trip has been one of the best deployments I have been part of.”

“The participation from the Ohio National Guard is a fantastic demonstration of how committed the Air Force is to our alliances in Europe and the State Partnership with Hungary,” said David Kostelancik, chargé d’ affaires from the U.S. Embassy. “Their presence here shows not only strong military cooperation and skill but also the important relationships maintained and nurtured with the Hungarian people."

The exercise, which kicked off on Monday, May 22 and will conclude June 9, is the first Load Diffuser Exercise in Hungary in seven years and only the third of its kind in the two-decade partnership between Hungary and the Ohio National Guard.

“To be back in Hungary is exciting, energizing and extremely important to our Airmen who made such a large investment of time and effort in planning and coordinating this successful partnership exercise,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen Markovich, commander of the Ohio Air National Guard. “Our Airmen are representing the United States in this multi-national exercise and showcasing their ability in the operational force. They continue proving you have to train like you fight and that we will be ready.”

The State Partnership Program, managed by the National Guard Bureau since 1993, has been successfully building and sustaining relationships around the world with more than 70 countries for nearly a quarter of a century. It connects a state’s National Guard with a partner nation’s military to build cooperative, mutually beneficial relationships.

“The exercise here is strong, our alliances here our strong, and we are committed to protecting democracy and our nations,” said Brig. Gen. Albert Sáfár, chief of air forces for the Hungarian Defence Forces. “Between six countries, we have shown great capability and willingness to train and cooperate together to achieve success.”

Forces from around Europe and the United States came together for the two-week exercise to not only enhance joint readiness and interoperability but accomplish crucial training along with bonding over the combined hard work and efforts to achieve success.

“All of our operators, maintainers and mission supporters ensured the exercise was a success by pouring their blood, sweat and tears into what is most important to all of us, hard, hard training to improve our readiness now and into the future.” said Wolters.