PARDUBICE AIR BASE, Czech Republic -- A KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft and aircrew assigned to the 155th Air Refueling Wing, Nebraska Air National Guard, participated in Exercise Ample Strike 2018, at Pardubice Air Base, Czech Republic.
Ample Strike is a Czech Republic-led exercise for joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs) and close air support (CAS) aircrews, with aircraft and participants conducting day and night operations out of the Czech Republic to improve NATO allies and partner nation interoperability.
“What I appreciate most about Ample Strike is that there is no home field advantage,” stated Lt. Col. Edward Conner, KC-135R instructor pilot, 155th ARW. “We are operating in unfamiliar territory with coalition aircraft, each with their unique capabilities, speeds and weapons systems.”
There are 19 nations participating in the exercise, along with the 162nd Wing, Arizona ANG and the 307th Bomb Wing out of Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, the event offers a unique, real-world training experience that is difficult to simulate at home stations.
”Participating JTACs must traverse several miles of unfamiliar territory and utilize whatever weapons system is available for the day, on a target they’ve likely never seen before,” Conner said. “This training is very much like what happens real world, in theater.”
The uniqueness of the training opportunity isn’t the only highlight of the training event. This multinational exercise is of special significance to the 155th for another notable reason.
“This year marks the 25th anniversary of Nebraska’s state partnership with the Czech Republic,” stated Col. John D. Williams, 155th ARW Operations Group commander and former U.S. bilateral officer to the Czech Republic. “We have a high exercise tempo with the Czech Republic, with sometimes as many as 20 small exercises within a year. Our training with them is fully integrated, spanning almost every job function.”
Nebraska’s partnership with the Czech Republic not only provides vital opportunities for integrated, total force training but bolsters strong and strategic relationships with the United States’ NATO allies and European partners.
“The Czech Republic is an amazing host country,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Parker, in-flight refueling specialist, 155th ARW. “It is a privilege to be in partnership with a country who is actively participating in exercises that not only increase interoperability but also rallies nations together.”
This year’s exercise will also commemorate the 100 year anniversary of a free Czech Republic. Former U.S. president T. Woodrow Wilson played a key role in the founding of the independent Czechoslovak Republic.
“President Wilson pushed for their freedom back in 1918,” Williams stated. “This centennial is a testament to the longstanding relationship between the U.S. and the Czech Republic.”
The centennial will be celebrated during NATO Days, an air and ground show taking place in the Czech Republic after the conclusion of Ample Strike. The 155th will also be supporting the event, showing the strength of their commitment to the security of the Czech Republic.
“With several allied aircraft and platforms taking part in this exercise, we feel honored to be able to support by providing the premier refueler for the event,” stated Parker. The relationship we’ve built with the Czech Republic military makes this possible.”
The 173rd Air Refueling Squadron, Nebraska ANG, along with the 185th ARW and 174th ARS from Iowa ANG provided additional manning in support of the 155th for the exercise.