US SOF continue to enhance their ability alongside POL allies through culmination exercise
By Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Pena, 352nd Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 02, 2019
KRAKOW, Poland -- Clouds make way for the first pass of combat controllers from the U.S. and Polish forces as they free fall out of an MC130J during a culmination exercise near Krakow on Dec. 5, 2018. The joint team is determined to put all their recent training into action as they steer their parachutes onto the calculated target.
“We are in Poland to strengthen our already capable POLSOF allies by advising them on how we conduct special operations air land integration,” said the commander of the 321st Special Tactics Squadron, assigned to the 352 Special Operations Wing, based in the United Kingdom. “This will give our Polish allies the ability to survey, secure, and control an austere airfield anywhere in Poland.”
The exercise was based on a real-world scenario which featured jumping into and seizing an unimproved airfield, where they completed missions tasks such as, deploying undetected into hostile combat and austere environments to establish assault zones or airfields, while simultaneously conducting air traffic control and command and control.
“The CULMEX was our final chance to see everything we've trained with our Polish counterparts,” said the mission commander for the 321st STS. “The 321 STS is extremely impressed with the high level of partnership and competency demonstrated by the soldiers of the Polish Special Operations Forces from Military Unit NIL.”
Combat controllers are uniquely trained special operations forces, certified FAA air traffic controllers and are among the most highly trained personnel in the U.S. military. By sharing methods, and developing best practices, U.S. and NATO partners around the world remain ready to respond to any potential real-world contingencies in Eastern Europe.
The team deployed to Poland months prior, in order to build upon Polish Special Operations Command's ability to conduct special operations air land integration.
“We've been planning for two months,” said a combat controller with the 321st STS. “We've practiced basics of assault zones, air traffic control, completing surveys, and what we call the global-access piece; our capability to find airfields anywhere in the world to forward project highly trained manpower and equipment whenever needed.”
Along with developing joint leaders, this deployment gave the units the opportunity to establish professional development at the tactical level.
“It helped us to learn our job better too; I feel like anytime you're training with another unit, it makes you that much better at your own skills. It allowed some of our younger guys to become leaders and put them in positions where they may not have been before,” said a combat controller with the 321st STS.
The ability to be on the cutting edge is significantly tied to how well nations share with each other what they are experiencing and learning.
“We are very proud of our relationship with POLSOF and other NATO allies,” said the 321st STS Commander. “We look forward to building and maintaining our abilities to conduct special operations air land integration in Europe as a joint and ready force.”
Through these types of joint training exercises, special operation commands across the force stand ready to operate anytime, anyplace.
“This will ultimately increase the reach and the responsiveness of US and NATO forces, deterring enemy aggression in Eastern Europe,” said the 321st STS Commander. “Should the day come where we have to fight together in combat, I am confident in our joint capabilities.”