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Nebraska Guard, Czechs Solidify Partnership at Exercise

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. R Denise Mommens,
  • 155th Air Refueling Wing, Nebraska Air National Guard

OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – The 155th Air Refueling Wing participated in the Ample Strike Exercise and NATO Days to support its partnership with the Czech Republic.

The Nebraska Air National Guard Airmen attended the events at Pardubice Military Airport and Leos Janacek Ostrava Airport Sept. 5-18.

Ample Strike is a Czech Republic-led, multinational live exercise that offers air and land integration training to joint terminal attack controllers in coordination with fighter and bomber aircraft.

“The KC-135 aircraft is essential in providing aerial refueling to the fighter and bomber aircraft to have additional flight time in the exercise, as all the ground controller teams receive training in close air support coordination,” said Capt. Travis Carlson, 173rd Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker pilot.

During the exercise, the airborne KC-135 crew refueled F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy, and German Tornado aircraft.

“I think it is great building contacts with other European countries and being able to work together towards a common goal,” said Capt. Taylor Ashmore, 173rd Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 pilot. “It is awesome being able to meet other military members from different countries and realize what everybody does, knowing that we can work together.”

NATO Days followed the Ample Strike Exercise. The event is a two-day regional public presentation of the Czech Army, Air Force, first responders and security services. 

Since the Czech Republic and NATO allies started the NATO Days concept 22 years ago, it has evolved into the largest security show in Europe.

Three U.S. Air Force aircraft, C-F, B-52 and the KC-135, were lined up near one of the NATO Days entrance gates — one of four aircraft static displays at the event. 

The airshow demonstrations featured Swiss, Finnish, Belgium, French, Dutch, German and Czech Republic aircraft and helicopters. There were also ground presentations of tanks and security personnel that allowed attendees to hear and feel the boom of a few carefully planned explosives.

“NATO Days is a great way to show all the different countries working together, unified together, that we are serious, we aren’t just kidding around,” Carlson said. “We take this, the goal of protecting one another, seriously.”

Ashmore said the U.S. presence demonstrated “that we want to help, and we are happy and excited to be over there. People were waiting in long lines just to come see us.”

The Nebraska National Guard and the Czech Republic have been partners under the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program since 1993.

The program and participation in Ample Strike highlight the U.S. dedication to its security commitments with the NATO alliance and global partners.