SPRINGFIELD, Ill - The Illinois Air National Guard hosted Polish Air Force representatives from the Air Operations Center – Air Component Command (AOC-ACC), Warsaw, Poland, during a five-day visit to units in the state that wrapped up Monday.
Poland is the partner country of Illinois under the National Guard's State Partnership Program. The Springfield-based 183rd Fighter Wing and the Peoria-based 182nd Airlift Wing held separate events for the delegation.
The Warsaw AOC-ACC is responsible for Poland's air defense on a daily basis. The center is also integrated with NATO's air defense network to provide a picture of Eastern Europe. The Deputy Commander of the AOC-ACC, Brig. Gen. Slawomir Zakowski, led the four-person delegation visiting Illinois.
Over the past three years, Springfield's 183rd Air Operations Group has collaborated on the center's effort to become a NATO-certified AOC.
"We are here to obtain our American colleagues' assistance in this goal," said Zakowski.
"We were honored to host our friends and partners from the Warsaw AOC-ACC and we're committed to supporting their ongoing efforts toward NATO certification," said Col. Dan McSeveney, commander of the 183rd Combat Operations Squadron. "We held a local operational exercise during this visit to demonstrate our techniques for turning strategy into tactics. It gave them the opportunity to explore processes that might enhance their own operations."
The two units will collaborate again in June during the 10-day Polish military exercise Ankonda 2016. More than 30,000 troops from NATO and partner countries will participate. The Warsaw AOC-ACC will have command and control of approximately 100 aircraft.
"We are very glad that during this exercise our capability will be supported by our colleagues from the 183rd AOC," said Zakowski.
"Anakonda 2016 is an outstanding training opportunity for the 183rd AOC members. It's important that we develop the ability to integrate into a multinational command and control environment," said Col. Rick Yoder, commander of the 183rd Air Operations Group. "We have a long and successful history with Poland through the State Partnership Program and this exercise is just one more opportunity to train, exercise and integrate our efforts."
While in Peoria, the 182nd Air Support Operations Group demonstrated a combat simulator for tactical air controllers. The simulator allows Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) to practice coordinating airstrikes in support of ground forces.
The Polish delegation also received detailed briefings on the unit's Air Support Operations Center (ASOC), which is a part of the Theater Air Control System used to integrate close air support on the battlefield. The ASOC works closely with the AOC, which made the pairing of the Peoria and Springfield units ideal for the Polish Air Force visit.
The State Partnership Program is designed to foster enduring civil-military relationships that improve long-term international security while building partnership capacity.