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U.S., Polish forces participate in Aviation Rotation 19.4, strengthen partnership, interoperability

U.S. Air Force Capt. Garett Otterbein, 121st Fighter Squadron F-16C Fighting Falcon pilot, 113th Wing, District of Columbia, Air National Guard, prepares for takeoff at Lask Air Base, Poland, September 20, 2019. Otterbein and other Airmen from the 121st FS were conducting training focused on improving effectiveness and interoperability with their Polish allies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kyle Cope)

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 121st Fighter Squadron, 113th Wing, District of Columbia, Air National Guard, prepare F-16C Fighting Falcons for takeoff at Lask Air Base, Poland, September 20, 2019. The Airmen and F-16s conducted bilateral training alongside their Polish allies to strengthen their deterrence efforts and adaptive abilities by improving readiness and responsiveness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kyle Cope)

U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. John Rudolph, 113th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion technician, left, and Senior Airman Emanuel Morales, 113th AMXS phase crew chief, right, prepare an F-16C Fighting Falcon for a bilateral training exercise with the Polish Air Force during Aviation Rotation 19.4 at Lask Air Base, Poland, September 20, 2019. The 17-day aviation rotation was an opportunity for U.S. forces to enhance partner interoperability, maintain joint readiness and assure U.S. regional allies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kyle Cope)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Emanuel Morales, 113th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron phase crew chief, installs safety wire on an F-16C Fighting Falcon arresting hook at Lask Air Base, Poland, September 20, 2019. An arresting hook on an F-16C is used in the event the aircraft needs to make an emergency landing or abort a takeoff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kyle Cope)

U.S. Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon pilots assigned to the 121st Fighter Squadron, 113th Wing, District of Columbia, Air National Guard and Polish F-16 pilots prepare to conduct bilateral training at Lask Air Base, Poland during Aviation Rotation 19.4, September 20, 2019. U.S. aircraft and Airmen have participated in aviation rotations in Poland since 2012 as part of a continuing effort to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to collective security and dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kyle Cope)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Hector Mayorga, 113th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load two-man crew technician, District of Columbia, Air National Guard prepares to unload an AIM-120 CATM dummy missile from an F-16C Fighting Falcon onto a MJ01 jammer at Lask Air Base, Poland, September 20, 2019. Mayorga was one of many Airmen from the 113th Wing who participated in aviation rotation 19.4 at Lask Air Base. Aviation rotations allow the U.S. to strengthen relationships and engage with allies in its commitment to a peaceful, stable and secure Europe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kyle Cope)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Westerfield, 113th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew chief, District of Columbia, Air National Guard and Airman 1st Class Courtney Britton, 113th AMXS weapons load three-man crew technician, unload an AIM-120 Captive Air Training Missile from an F-16C Fighting Falcon during Aviation Rotation 19.4 at Lask Air Base, Poland, September 20, 2019. The CATM is an inert missile loaded into aircraft to simulate an AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile for training purposes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kyle Cope)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Wilson, 121st Fighter Squadron F-16C Fighting Falcon pilot, 113th Wing, District of Columbia, Air National Guard, taxis for takeoff at Lask Air Base, Poland, September 20, 2019. Wilson and other pilots from the 121st FS were training with their Polish allies to strengthen deterrence efforts and improve readiness and responsiveness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kyle Cope)

LASK AIR BASE, Poland --

U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 113th Wing, Air National Guard, District of Columbia, the 126th Air Refueling Wing, Illinois ANG, and 52nd Operations Group, Detachment 1, conducted training alongside members of the Polish air force for Aviation Rotation 19.4, in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve at Lask Air Base, Poland, Sept. 7-24, 2019.

Aviation Rotation 19.4 was an opportunity U.S. and Polish forces to strengthen their relationship and increase readiness.

“Det. 1 has four aviation rotations per year,” said 1st Lt. Jessica Schwanebeck, 52nd OG, Det. 1 section commander. “Training events such as these are important because of the bilateral alliance we are able to have with the Polish here. Today’s Air Force has really been based on readiness and that is what we do here. Readiness is the action, it is not just a word.”

The four aviation rotations Det. 1 join forces with rotating ANG and active duty units to maintain readiness alongside their Polish allies results in improved skills for both forces.

“Having our aviation rotations come through here at Lask twice a year and at Powidz twice a year, allows us to train with realistic scenarios and increases Polish capabilities as well,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Cole, 52nd OG, Det. 1 superintendent. “They learn from us and we learn from them. It sets us up to be successful if there really was an actual conflict.”

For the members of the 113th Wing, the rotation provided their Airmen an opportunity to train in a new location.

“Aviation Rotation 19.4 has been the first time our squadron has actually been to Poland and operated under the U.S. Air Forces in Europe exercise for the European Deterrence Initiative,” said Lt. Col. Matthew McDonough, 121st Fighter Squadron commander, ANG, District of Columbia. “The training has been three weeks in total. We have executed both air-to-air mission and air-to-ground missions.”

The rotation also provided the Airmen with a new perspective on security.

McDonough said that coming from the U.S. they realized Americans sometimes take security for granted. Poland, as a Central European nation, has regional adversaries close to them. The Polish take the threat seriously and train hard.

While the training proved to be productive for U.S. and Polish forces, it was also time to connect on a different level.

“Aviation Rotation 19.4 has been awesome and training with the Polish is a lot of fun,” said Capt. Garett Otterbein, 121st FS training shop chief, aviation rotation 19.4 project officer, and F-16C Fighting Falcon pilot, 113th Wing, ANG, District of Columbia. “They are a good NATO member of ours who has supported us through a lot of armed conflicts we have been in in the past 20 years. The Polish are outstanding allies of ours.”