US, Bosnia and Herzegovina Armed Forces begin Air-Ground integration bilateral exercise with support from USAFE

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A joint military bilateral exercise between members of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AFBiH) and the U.S. began at the Glamoč and Manjača training grounds in BiH, Nov. 18, 2020.

The goal of the exercise is to improve partnership and cooperation between BiH, U.S. and NATO partners; and to develop the interoperability and capabilities of the AFBiH. The exercise concludes today.

The bilateral exercise included a computer simulation portion at the Manjača Range, in coordination with hands-on training in guidance and control of air support at Glamoč Range given by a U.S. Navy Joint Terminal Attack Controller.

U.S. Air Forces in Europe provided simulated close air support to ground forces with F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft assigned to the 555th Fighter Squadron, Aviano Air Base, Italy. For the duration of this exercise the aircraft did not use live munitions, but practiced laser target locking and simulated destruction of targets allowing participants to fully simulate the integration of ground and air forces.

KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, provided air refueling to the F-16s during the exercise.

“The overarching goal of the exercise was to train the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina in air-to-ground capabilities, working with joint tactical air controllers so the BiH military can work hand-in-hand with U.S. and NATO forces,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Corbin J. Boyles, 555th FS pilot and one of the lead planners for the exercise.

More than 250 members of the AFBiH have teamed with U.S. forces during the exercise, which helped contribute to increasing security and stability in the Balkans. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the AFBiH to reduce the number of participants and both U.S. and BiH participants had to adapt to the new situation in order to hold the exercise in compliance with all epidemiological recommendations and measures.

Additionally, to increase interoperability public affairs representatives from the U.S. and AFBiH have established a temporary Media Information Center to support media coverage of the exercise. The PA team includes 13 members of the AFBiH, two members of the Special Operations Command-Europe Regional Information Support Team, three Air Advisors assigned to the 435th Contingency Response Support Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and one PA representative from SOCEUR. The PA team is working closely with the Office of Defense Cooperation at the US Embassy in BiH.

Exercises such as this build partner capacity, improve interoperability with U.S. armed forces, and pave the way for AFBiH to be a full-fledged member of NATO in the future.

“It was truly an honor working with our AFBIH partners training on interoperability and air-to-ground interdiction,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Dante Earle, 100th ARW Commanders Action Group chief.  “It’s a pleasure to support and we’re looking forward to more exercises like this in the future.”

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