BLUE ASH, Ohio – Airmen assigned to the Ohio National Guard’s 123rd Air Control Squadron hosted a two-week combined training exercise with six service members from NATO allies Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary.
The training, which included air battle management, ground control intercept, large-force employment and air-to-air combat beyond visual range, was conducted April 24-May 5.
“This training is a way for us to build multinational partnerships,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. William Rief, senior operations officer assigned to the 123rd ACS. “It allows us to provide them with training they can’t get at home.”
Hungarian air force 1st. Lt. Mape Molmar, an intercept controller, agreed.
“We have limited opportunities to train on these missions at home,” Molmar said. “We can share experiences with each other here. When we know each other and how to work with each other, it improves our capabilities.”
The Airmen at the 123rd have extensive experience operating in forward-deployed locations around the world, and this experience allowed them to provide unique insights to the students during the exercise.
“It’s really great to have experienced instructors,” said Latvian air force Capt. Janis Kudums, an intercept controller. “They can give us insight and help us build this capability to, one day, train ourselves.”
Lithuanian air force Staff Sgt. Kristina Dabuzinskiene, an intercept controller, said the training provided her with new experience and skills.
“It’s a tough situation in the world these days,” Dabuzinskiene said. “We need to train together so we can support each other.”
Rief said this was the first time a training event like this had been done at the 123rd ACS. Kudums added that the training allows everyone to learn the same tactics to be prepared to operate in a joint, multinational environment.
In addition to gaining more training experience with NATO allies, the event provided another opportunity for the Ohio National Guard Airmen to work with their counterparts from Hungary, which has been paired with Ohio since 1993 through the State Partnership Program. Ohio also has maintained a partnership with Serbia since 2006.
“Our strength is through our relationships with our state partners,” said U.S Air Force Brig. Gen. David B. Johnson, assistant adjutant general for Air, Ohio National Guard. “When our adversaries see our capabilities and the joint interoperability we have day-to-day with our partners, that demonstrates our resolve.”
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the state partnership pairing between Ohio and Hungary.
“We have deep personal relationships with our partners and that makes a huge difference,” Johnson said. “You don’t think about that when you’re looking at these exercises; you see technical expertise being exchanged, but what is inherent in all this training are those relationships.”