Ample Strike 18 underway

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Ted Daigle
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa
Citizen Reserve Airmen and their active duty counterparts from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Peterson AFB, Colorado and Luke AFB, Arizona arrived at RAF Fairford, United Kingdom in support of Ample Strike 18, which began Sept. 7.

The airmen formed as the 343rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron to support the Czech Republic-led exercise. They will employ the B-52 Stratofortress during their time in the U.K.

Ample Strike 18 is designed to allow U.S. aircrews to work closely with Joint Terminal Air Controllers from several different countries and offer advanced Air and Land Integration Training. This year, 19 NATO allies and partner countries will take part in Ample Strike 18.

JTACS direct the action of combat aircraft from forward positions and engage in a variety of functions ranging from close air support to bombing missions. All their ground training this year will take place in the Czech Republic. That training includes simulations involving opposing forces and contested environments, as well as live range and urban terrain exercises.

“Taking part in Ample Strike 18 allows us to prove our commitment to our NATO partners and allies in the region and pays big dividends for the JTACS on the ground,” said Lt. Col. Pat Booker, 343rd EBS detachment commander. “For example, last year, we were able to work with 10 JTACS in one sortie alone.”

2018 marks the third year Airmen from Barksdale AFB have participated in Ample Strike.

Lt. Col. Michael Green, 343rd EBS detachment vice-commander said the exercise provides valuable training opportunities for all Airmen involved.

“When we come out here it is only for a few weeks at a time, so we still experience many differences from every day, normal operations at the home station,” said Green. It’s good for our maintenance personnel, our security forces and our operations people to get out and do something different.”

Aside from training with multiple NATO partners and reassuring allies, Ample Strike 18 also sends a message to other actors in the region.

“We love flying the B-52 this far east and during Ample Strike 18 we’ll be recovering at a former Soviet Union air base,” said Booker. “It just lets all parties know we are ready.”

Green concurred with Booker’s assessment.

“We definitely have the reach and capability, if needed, to handle any situation in the region,” he said.