Reservists fly tankers in Baltops 2015
By Senior Airman Michael Battles, 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 15, 2015
POWIDZ, Poland -- The U.S. Air Force, along with its Polish counterparts, officially kicked off Powidz Air Base's portion of Baltic Operations 2015 June 8 with the first KC-135 Stratotanker flight from the Air Force Reserve Command's 507th Air Refueling Wing.
Baltops is a multinational maritime exercise held in Poland, Sweden, Germany and throughout the Baltic Sea region. The June 5-20 exercise includes participation by 14 NATO and three partner nations.
"This is the 43rd year of Baltops and is one of the largest ever," said Vice Adm. James Foggo III, commander of the U.S. 6th Fleet. "During Baltops, we will focus on enhancing flexibility and interoperability, while demonstrating resolve of our allied and partner forces to maintain the security of the Baltic region."
The U.S., NATO and partner nations sent 49 ships, 61 aircraft, one submarine and approximately 5,600 service members to employ land, air, sea and undersea capabilities.
As part of Baltops, the Air Force deployed two KC-135s from the 100th Air Refueling Wing and one each from the Reserve's 916th and 507th ARWs to Poland, as well as 14 F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 480th and 157th Fighter Squadrons, and three B-52 Stratofortresses from the 5th Bomb Wing. The 507th ARW is from Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, and the 916th ARW is from Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina.
"Exercises such as Baltops really allow us to test and practice all of our capabilities," said Master Sgt. Larry Nahalea, the Powidz-deployed operations superintendent. "It also allows us to work with our NATO allies while gaining an understanding on how our multinational partners conduct exercises."
While supporting Baltops, participating forces will conduct training across a broad spectrum of areas including air defense, maritime interdiction, anti-submarine warfare and amphibious operations.
Other participants are Norway, Latvia, Canada, France, Denmark, Georgia, Estonia, Finland, Turkey, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Lithuania and the Netherlands.
Baltops is about maintaining NATO and its partner's common interests, said the admiral.
"NATO and our partners share a common interest in maintaining a Europe and Baltic region that is safe, secure and prosperous," he said. "Baltops exercises have resulted in great success, and have created a foundation for the strong relationships we share with the Baltic States."
Along with Baltops, the Air Force is also participating in Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise Saber Strike 2015 and Polish-led combined exercise Eagle Talon in the Baltic region, all of which are supported by the aviation detachment located at Lask and Powidz air bases in Poland.
"Our 17-nation force is a testament to our collective commitment to regional stability," Foggo said. "For those nations not participating, we have, will, and continue to respect their sovereignty, their fleets and their commanders. We will conduct our operations in a respectful and professional manner throughout this exercise. We expect the same from them."