Special Tactics Airmen support exercise in Baltic region

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt Chris Sullivan
  • 352 SOW Public Affairs
TROJAN FOOTPRINT 16, a large-scale special operations readiness exercise, brought Airmen and Soldiers from the 352d Special Operations Wing and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) together with Lithuanian, Latvian, & Estonian Special Operations Forces in Powidz, Poland and Grafenwoehr, Germany, 3-22 May 2016.

The Special Operations Air Component saw the deployment and employment of Air Force MC-130J Commando II’s and CV-22 Ospreys, Army MH-47 Chinooks and approximately 250 aircrew, maintenance and support personnel with a goal of increasing the capability to integrate and operate with US and foreign SOF partners using the NATO Response Force 16 construct.

“It’s amazing to me what these guys were able to accomplish in a relatively short period of time,” said Col. Nathan Green, Special Operations Air Component commander. “We were able to rapidly setup in two separate locations, work seamlessly with our foreign SOF partners and perform a variety of successful missions.”

The three-week exercise, resulted in the SOAC completing over 45 sorties involving the supply and resupply of SOF personnel, infiltration and exfiltration training, air and personnel drops and other mission-essential functions to refine NATO Response Force processes and demonstrate the deployment and employment capabilities of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force.

“We were able to deliver 200 tons of cargo, pass 70 thousand pounds of fuel and drop over 500 SOF personnel,” said Senior Master Sgt. Herman Sargent, Forward Aviation Detachment senior enlisted leader. “Our Airmen and Soldiers worked night and day to ensure the mission went off without a hitch.”

Continued operations in a deployed environment do not come without significant work, commitment and sacrifice on the part of not only aircrews but the men and women who support the fight.

“Our Airmen are the definition of dedication,” said Chief Master Sgt. Floilan England SOAC senior enlisted leader. “Whether it’s a training exercise or real-world scenario, we know that they’ll do what it takes to get job done, and they need to know that we’ll have their back.”

Trojan Footprint was linked to and executed concurrently with Estonia's annual National Defense exercise (DAGGER) and Lithuania's annual multinational SOF exercise (FLAMING SWORD). SOAC aircraft and personnel even took part in a joint, combined military demo in Pajuostic, Lithuania to commemorate the seamless interaction between the partner militaries.

“This exercise was a stepping stone to bigger and better actions in the future,” said Col. Modestas Petrauskas, the Lithuanian Special Operations Commander. “The joint work with other forces, engaging multiple agencies, all worked towards building capabilities in the Baltic region.”

Overall, by bringing together SOF from ten different nations to train together as one military, the Alliance and its partners demonstrated they are ready for and capable of dealing with any contingency set before them.

"Trojan Footprint 2016 was an absolute success from the Special Operations Component Command perspective," said Col. Lawrence Daley, operations officer for the Special Operations Component Command of the NRF. "The exercise enabled the testing of the NRF alert and deployment sequence in addition to our forces ability to integrate and operate with host nations forces across the exercise's training area, to me this clearly shows that our Very High Readiness Joint Task Force elements are able to rapidly deploy and are ready for and capable of dealing with any contingency set before them."