An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Article View
NEWS | Oct. 26, 2023

Ohio’s 123rd Air Control Squadron Trains with NATO Allies

By Shane Hughes, 178th Wing

BLUE ASH, Ohio - Airmen assigned to the 178th Wing’s 123rd Air Control Squadron hosted a two-week combined training exercise with eight service members from NATO allies Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia 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 Sept. 11-22. It was the second exercise of its kind, coming after similar training in April.

“They are very good at their daily jobs, which is protection of the homeland,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. William Rief, senior operations officer assigned to the 123rd ACS. “What they don’t have is a chance to practice large-scale exercises and large-scale force employment. That’s what we’re trying to provide for them, how to do mission planning for something beyond their daily job.”

Hungarian Defense Force 1st Lt. Mátyás Palik, an intercept controller assigned to Air Operations Command and Control Centre, agreed.

“We try to simulate as realistic as possible the real live time environment, but cannot do it in live missions in our country,” Palik said. “It requires more aircraft, more airspace and a lot of contact between the units, but here is the equipment, the technology and the knowledge of the trainers, so here we can practice it.”

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.

“What we do back home, it’s mostly one-on-one, so it’s a totally different thing,” said Lithuanian Air Force Sgt. Ričarcdas Makrickas, a surveillance operator assigned to the Air Surveillance and Control Command. “We don’t do a lot of multiple aircraft fights, so the U.S. has a lot more experience on that, a lot more knowledge and a lot more people who are prepared to share that knowledge.”

“We got the taste of the bigger air battles and how to run those things,” said Estonian Defence Forces 1st. Lt. Harri Salumäe, chief of surveillance, assigned to the Air Surveillance Wing Control and Reporting Centre. “We have a better idea now how to run the operation as well as the aircrew management. This is the best place to get the experience we need to help us defend our country and our allies.”

Latvian Armed Forces Capt. Toms Rozentāls, a fighter controller assigned to the Air Surveillance Squadron Control and Reporting Center, said the training benefits all NATO allies by ensuring everyone receives uniform training standards to reduce confusion in wartime.

“It’s good we have everybody on the same page with how to do controlling,” Salumāe said. “Latvia doesn’t have our own aircraft, so we will control other aircraft and they want us to control the same way.”

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 has also maintained a partnership with Serbia since 2006.

“It builds a partnership and cooperation that we would value if something were to happen in Eastern Europe,” Rief said. “From a geopolitical perspective, we’re enhancing lethality and improving wartime capabilities.”

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Bryan Moore, commander of the 123rd Air Control Squadron, said the training also helps build deep, interpersonal relationships among the NATO allies participating in the training.

“It’s about trust,” Moore said. “You need to be able to trust that the people on either side of you are going to do their job and they’re going to do that job well. We’re building strategic partnerships, and at their core, strategic partnerships are personal partnerships.”

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the state partnership pairing between Ohio and Hungary.



Related Articles
The 179th Airlift Wing, an Ohio Air National Guard unit, is redesignated as the 179th Cyberspace Wing during a ceremony held Sept. 9, 2023, at Mansfield-Lahm Air National Guard Base, Mansfield, Ohio. The redesignation is historically significant as the first Air National Guard base in the nation to become a cyberspace wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech Sgt. Alexis Wade)
179th Airlift Wing Becomes First Cyberspace Wing in the Air National Guard
By Tech. Sgt. Alexis Wade, | Sept. 13, 2023
MANSFIELD, Ohio – The 179th Airlift Wing cemented its place in history during a redesignation ceremony renaming the unit as the 179th Cyberspace Wing following two years of preparation on Sept. 9. This redesignation marks a...

Airmen from the 200th Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer (RED HORSE), Ohio Air National Guard, complete construction projects during annual training, July 30, 2023, at Morón Air Base, Spain.
Ohio Air Guard Engineers Conduct Annual Training in Spain
By Airman 1st Class Grace Riegel, | Aug. 14, 2023
MORON AIR BASE, Spain - Ohio Air National Guard Airmen from the 200th Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer (RED HORSE) completed construction projects at Morón Air Base as part of the...

Members of the Vulcan Guard BOLT 5 exercise stand for a group photo Aug. 10, 2023, during Vulcan Guard, a space-focused exercise incorporating several diverse space weapons systems in realistic threat-based scenarios and hosted at the 178th Wing in Springfield, Ohio. Personnel from all seven National Guard states that conduct space operations, U.S. Space Command and the Brazilian military participated in the week-long exercise.
Airmen Train for Space Operations During Vulcan Guard
By Airman 1st Class Colin Simpson, | Aug. 14, 2023
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio - The Ohio Air National Guard’s 178th Wing hosted an iteration of the Vulcan Guard space exercise Aug. 10-11, bringing together U.S. Space Command, the Brazilian military and all seven National Guard states...