CAMPIA TURZII, Romania --
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance is one of the Air Force’s five enduring core missions, and is integral to global vigilance and foundational to global reach and power.
The U.S. Air Force has deployed MQ-9 Reaper aircraft and approximately 90 Airmen at the 71st Air Base in Campia Turzii, Romania, to conduct ISR missions in support of NATO operations.
“The forward and ready positioning of our MQ-9s at this key strategic location reassures our allies and partners, while also sending a message to our adversaries that we can quickly respond to any emergent threat,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander.
The MQ-9s will fall under the 31st Expeditionary Operations Group, Detachment 1, until the squadron is fully operational. The unit is subordinate to the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy.
In addition to exercising ISR capabilities, the MQ-9s will support Agile Combat Employment concepts, fly freedom of maneuver missions and integrate with joint and coalition forces in the region. While in theater, the MQ-9s may also participate in exercises that ensure interoperability with allied and partner nations.
“Many U.S. Airmen arrive at deployed locations that are established in regards to living conditions, security of the base and having access to all of the support functions”, said Chief Master Sgt. Larry, 31st EOG Det. 1. “Airmen here are starting from scratch to fly missions, helping build partnerships with allied nations and secure this area of responsibility.”
The 31st EOG Det. 1 fuels distribution team has begun the process of commissioning a new permanent refueling system, helping the unit move forward in setting up the base for an enduring presence in Romania.
“Past fuels management teams deployed here operated contingency refueling equipment known as Fuels Operational Readiness Capability Equipment (FORCE),” said Tech Sgt. Austin Bernat, 31st Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution craftsman. “We are working alongside our Romanian civil engineer teammates to establish a diesel fuel farm, using fuels mobility support equipment in order to support various base operations.”
Rapid change is the new norm, and the inability to adapt is a major vulnerability. Airmen deployed to Campia Turzii are not only adapting to changes by developing and fielding solutions to problems, but they are learning to do this in tandem with their Romanian counterparts.
“It has been a good experience working with the Romanian air force and learning from each other, as it allows us to strengthen our ties as NATO partners,“ said Senior Airman Coby Tran, 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution journeyman.
While at Campia Turzii, maintainers, launch and recovery, security forces members, fuels distribution and various other deployed members are demonstrating the United States’ commitment to the security and stability of Europe, strengthening relationships between NATO allies and other European partners.
“I’m honored to lead such a dedicated group of Airmen,” Larry said. “We are making history being the first government-owned, government-operated MQ-9 contingent to fly in this country, and it’s remarkable to see the dedication and understanding of these Airmen in spite of all the limitations of this not being a normal deployment.”