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.”