Airmen from the 155th Air Refueling Wing participated in Ample Strike Exercise and NATO Days in support of their State Partnership with the Czech Republic, Sept. 5-18, 2022, at Pardubice Military Airport and Leos Janacek Ostrava Airport, Czech Republic.
Ample Strike is a Czech Republic-led, multi-national live exercise that offers Air and Land Integration training to Joint Terminal Attack Controllers in coordination with both 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.
The 155th Air Refueling Wing has participated in Ample Strike since 2013. The KC-135 Stratotanker can refuel other aircraft in the air versus having to land to get their fuel, which keeps them up in the air longer. During the exercise, the KC-135 was responsible for refueling F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy, and German Tornado aircraft throughout the exercise.
“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.”
At the end of the Ample Strike Exercise is the NATO Days in Ostrava, Czech Republic, which is a 2-day, regional public presentation of the Czech Army, Air Force, first responders and security services. Czech Republic and NATO Allies started the NATO Days concept 22 years ago and it has evolved into the largest security show in Europe, in order to build connections between people, countries and the continent.
Near one of the NATO Days entrance gates, featured a line of three U.S. Air Force Aircraft – C-5, B-52 and the KC-135, one of four different aircraft static displays at NATO Days. The Airshow demonstrations featured Swiss, Finnish, Belgium, French, Dutch, German and Czech Republic aircraft and helicopters. There were also ground presentations of tanks and various security personnel where you could hear and feel the boom of a few carefully planned explosives.
“When you see us and everyone working together, and then you put it together in the airshow, the civilians are able to come out and see everything we do,” Carlson stated. “It is our chance to interact with the public,”
Carlson said, “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. We take this, the goal of protecting one another, seriously.”
Ashmore explains how the United States' presence is supportive.
“I think it is good for us to have our United States presence over there and then having people get to know us, showing that we want to help and we are happy and excited to be over there,” said Ashmore. “People were waiting in long lines just to come see us.”
The Nebraska National Guard has been state partners with the Czech Republic since 1993. The State Partnership Program and participation in Ample Strike highlights the U.S. dedication to our security commitments with NATO Alliance and global partners, which sends the message that they are prepared for and committed to peace and security.