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NEWS | April 23, 2024

Ohio Guard Air Control Squadron Trains with NATO Partners

By Shane Hughes, 178th Wing

BLUE ASH, Ohio - Airmen assigned to the 178th Wing’s 123rd Air Control Squadron concluded a two-week combined training exercise at the Blue Ash Air National Guard Station alongside seven service members from NATO allies Lithuania 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 March 11-22. It was the third iteration of the exercise.

“In the past, they’ve sent newer ground control intercept controllers, but they wanted a little more fast-paced environment, so they sent their chiefs of training,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. William Rief, assistant director of operations assigned to the 123rd ACS. “This training builds capability for them back home. We can provide expertise and knowledge they don’t have access to.”

Lithuanian Armed Forces Capt. Eugenijus Andriulionis, an intercept controller assigned to Control and Reporting Center Galaxy, agreed.

“You need a lot of training for air battle management,” Andriulionis said. “We don’t have much of the big exercises, and it’s a great opportunity to gain some experience from everyone here.”

The 123rd Airmen 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.

“The big thing we’re trying to work on is integration,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Logan Hargis, a weapons director assigned to the 123rd ACS. “Not only do they have to focus on supplying the fighters with information or targets or general awareness, but they have to ensure they are communicating with each other and working together.”

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.

“By increasing the level of knowledge of our NATO allies and increasing cooperation through face-to-face interactions and personal relationships, we build the skills we’ll need in a crisis environment,” Rief said. “They know the Americans are on their side, and we are genuinely trying to set the NATO partnership on the best path to success.”

This year marks the 75th anniversary of NATO.



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