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NATO Days enhances ability to operate as a team

  • Published
  • By Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Baldock
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa
The United States and 18 NATO Allies and partner nations participated in the NATO Days air show, September 15-16, at Ostrava Air Base, Czech Republic. NATO Days is a Czech Republic-led air show and exhibition that showcases military ground and aviation capabilities. Participation in NATO Days increases U.S. understanding of European ally and partner capabilities, greatly enhancing the ability to operate together as a team.

“One of the key outcomes of NATO Days is the enhancement of interoperability,” said Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark, Deputy Commander, United States Air Forces in Europe -Air Forces Africa. “We understand their capabilities, they understand our capabilities, and it’s not just between us and the Czech Republic, but it’s among all of our NATO partners who are here to help us in that collective defensive effort that NATO is tasked to accomplish.”

The air show also gave members of the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps an opportunity to display both air and land defensive forces.

“Being a Soldier, you wouldn’t think there would be much of an Army presence at an air show,” said Spc. James Elliott, assigned to Bravo Company, 2-12th Cavalry Regiment. “This has been an awesome experience to be beside our Air Force counterparts and show off some of our tanks and helicopters.”

The U.S. Air Force had multiple aircraft and Airmen from Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and active duty units participating in NATO Days. Aircraft included two F-16C Fighting Falcons from the 162nd Wing, Arizona ANG; one B-52 Stratofortress from the 307th Bomb Wing, Barksdale AFB, La.; one KC-135 from the 155th Air Refueling Wing, Nebraska ANG; and one C-17 Globemaster from the 62nd Airlift Wing, McChord Field, Wash.

In addition to military aircraft, the USAFE Band provided musical entertainment during the air show. They played both the Czech Republic and U.S. national anthems during opening ceremonies, and then entertained spectators with music throughout the day.

Clark emphasized the importance of having Total Force Airmen and aircraft participate. “From across the spectrum, we have Airmen participating in this event to help further relationships, to help us build the partnerships necessary for the dynamic strategic environment that we are in,” said Clark. “The interoperability, the relationship building, and all of the byproducts of this event are invaluable to NATO.”