Hulman Field, Ind. --
The Slovak Republic visited the 113th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS) during the month of February to finalize joint training opportunities during a planning conference. These training opportunities are a result of the creation of a State Partnership Program (SPP) that was established by National Guard Bureau in 1993, and Indiana was partnered with Slovakia in 1994. The SPP encourages long term relationships to build trust between the state and partner nation.
Lt. Col. Patrick Renwick, 113th ASOS Commander, said, "The 113th ASOS and Slovak Republic Tactical Air Control Parties established an enduring relationship over the last year. Our goal is to make both teams stronger by sharing Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) during combined training events."
During their visit, the four Slovakian Joint Tactical Air Controllers observed all facets of planning, preparations, and execution of a close air support (CAS) training mission. The ASOS loaded their HUMVEEs and support trucks early one morning to convoy the unit and their guests to Camp Atterbury to carry out the scenario based mission. When the team arrived at the range, they immediately began their final equipment preparations for the CAS mission.
There were two missions scheduled for the day, with the initial mission being controlled by a member of the 113th ASOS. The Slovakian JTACs observed the first training mission allowing them to inquire and gain knowledge of the control process. With radios chirping aloud with communications between ground team members, and another frequency facilitating direct communication between the ground lead and the aircraft, an untrained ear could easily be distracted. 1st Lt. Marian Blazeniak was assigned to conduct the second control. Blazeniak said it was a valuable experience and he was excited to get that training opportunity on this trip.
This planning conference has lead to two more joint training events scheduled for 2010. "We look forward to sending seven JTACs to Slovakia in April. The focus there will be a combination of classroom and field skills training culminating in both American and Slovak led Air Strike Control exercises. We will utilize both F-16s from Aviano Air Force Base, and Slovak Republic L-39 aircraft," said Renwick.
Major Rudolf Pevny, Slovak Republic, said he looks forward to the continued relationships with the 113th. "I am eager to implement a more scenario based training concept for my Airmen," Pevny said.
While many members of the Wing will be heading to Alaska for annual training this summer, the ASOS will be conducting their training in Kansas. "In June, eight TACPs from the Slovak Republic will deploy with the 113th ASOS to Smokey Hill Range, Kansas, to participate in our annual training. While there, they will work side by side with our TACPs, and be blended with our exercise command and control operations. The missions will be dynamic, and the training schedule will be very demanding," Renwick said. "Our equipment and training may be different, but the mindset of the Battlefield Airmen from both countries is the same; organize, train and equip our forces to deploy for combat."
When the group was asked about the takeaways from this visit, 1st Lt. Marian Blazeniak said, "Being able to gain better equipment familiarization will help us get more needed items for our Airmen." Even though different types of equipment are used by both countries, there are several similarities. Many items were discussed at length as to the advantages and disadvantages of specific equipment.
This was a first time visit to the United States for the group of Slovakian officers. In addition to learning from their military counterparts, they were very excited to learn about the American culture first hand. They were introduced to chicken wings, sushi, hibachi style cooking, and fried pickles. They were inquisitive in terms of work shifts, lunch hours, traditional homes, family size, and even the current economic status. They were very pleased with the welcoming they received upon arrival, and mentioned several times how comfortable they were here in Terre Haute.
Of course a visit to Hulman Field must include participation in good old fashioned camaraderie. They were very excited to attend the first annual 'Racer Idol' during the February UTA, and were able to socialize with and get to know other members of the 181st Intelligence Wing.