PARDUBICE, Czech Republic – Airmen from the Nebraska and Texas Air National Guard participated in exercise Ample Strike 2021 with the Czech Air Force and seven NATO countries in the Czech Republic Sept. 6-18.
Ample Strike 2021 is a Czech Republic-led, multinational live exercise that provides increased proficiency in NATO standardization and interoperability of close air support, air-land integration and aerial refueling.
“We were there to support our partners and provide air refueling to extend their operations,” said Maj. Tyler Sandberg, KC-135 exercise liaison officer, 155th ARW, Nebraska ANG. “By doing this, we enhance NATO collaboration and synergy while receiving our annual overseas training.”
During the exercise, aircraft and participants conducted day and night operations to improve NATO ally interoperability in simulated highly contested environments and offered advanced Air/Land Integration Training to JTACs in coordination with MQ-9 Reaper aircraft from the Texas ANG 147th Attack Wing and F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft.
In addition, the exercise allowed Nebraska and Texas to strengthen their shared partnership with the Czech Republic under the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program.
“This is a great opportunity to build relationships with our state partners here in the Czech Republic,” said Sandberg. “We get to build that familiarity and, in turn, become more comfortable operating over here with one another.”
The 155th ARW enhanced interoperability by bringing KC-135R Stratotankers to provide aerial refueling to F-15E Strike Eagles from the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, England, that provided support to JTACs on the ground.
Capt. J.H., chief of air operations, Czech Air Force, lauded the teamwork involved by all the nations during the exercise, saying, “Fourteen JTAC teams from nine NATO member states performed a total of 889 aircraft targeting during the training and crews of more than 20 airplanes and helicopters spent a total of 450 hours in the airspace of the Czech Republic."
The Ample Strike exercise director emphasized the importance of tanker operations during the exercise.
“Without the effort, focus and dedication of pilots and operators of KC-135 Stratotankers, we wouldn’t be able to provide almost 40 flying hours and more than 150 hot and dry controls in favor of the Ample Strike exercise,” said Czech Air Force Col. Aleš Cápal. “I highly appreciate the work done by personnel of both the 155th and 185th ARWs, who were the key assets of this exercise – particularly in the military areas of Boletice and Bechyně.”
Events like Ample Strike provide vital opportunities for multiple U.S. services to work together and for integrated, total force training with Reserve and National Guard units and partner nations’ militaries to ensure interoperability.