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2021 Building Partner Aviation Capacity Seminar in Krakow, Poland

  • Published
  • By Army Staff Sgt. Brandon Nelson
  • 352 SOW

The U.S. Air Force Special Operations School, in collaboration with United States Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa and the Polish Air Force, hosted the bi-annual European Partnership Flight Building Partner Aviation Capacity Seminar (BPACS), Aug. 30 - Sept. 3, 2021 in Krakow’s Grand Sheraton hotel in Poland.

The five-day seminar brought together aviation professionals from across the U.S. security cooperation enterprise, the NATO alliance, as well as other strategic European partners to exchange lessons learned on the integration of civil and military operations.

USAFSOS currently provides (SOF) indoctrination, as well as political, military, and cultural studies supporting SOF operations in the various combatant theaters. The school also provides language training, and specialized instructions on irregular warfare principles; building partner nation aviation capacity; aviation foreign internal defense; dynamics of international terrorism; and command, control and integration of Air Force Special Operation Forces (AFSOF) assets and AFSOF leadership development.

BPACS familiarized over 60 participants with the political, military, economic, social and infrastructure benefits of aviation resources in the development and defense of their nation during both war and peacetime operations.

BPACS hosted a wide variety of guest speakers, including the U.S. Consul General to Krakow, Dr. Patrick T. Slowinski, who emphasized aviation capacity development and military cooperation as a cornerstone of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Poland.

“When we talk about aviation capacity, we're talking about strategy, partnerships, resources and business. We're not just discussing military defense, we're also talking about civilian involvement and cooperation,” said Slowinski. “Aviation is a vital domain for cooperation and collaboration between the United States and its partners. Not just to modernize our defenses and facilitate interoperability, but also building capacity for civilian endeavors as well.”

The NATO allies and European partners in attendance were given an overview on security cooperation enterprise, air-to-land integration, resource management and the flexibility of special operations aviation to respond to both civil and military needs.

The overview was designed to establish a critical means of communications and understanding of what the U.S. can provide to improve our partner’s overall aviation capacity, as well as where the U.S. can learn to streamline processes.

“It's not just about equipment, but about personal relationships. We can go and support [NATO partners and allies] developing their aviation enterprise … we don’t go to war alone,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Abdulaziz Ali, U.S. Air Force Special Operations School theater engagement division chief.

Ali was responsible for leading, developing course material and coordinating BPACS, which included a visit to the Polish Aviation Museum and a static display at the John Paul II Krakow-Balice International Airport featuring aircraft from the 352d Special Operations Wing, the Polish Air Force and the Polish Special Operations Forces Command.

According to Ali, one of the main focus areas for the U.S. Air Force is working with partners to develop aviation capacity throughout the security cooperations enterprise in the United States.

“If we wait for the next major conflict to begin before we synchronize our processes and procedures, then it’s too late,” said Ali. “We need to start thinking about better integration and interoperability today, and our hope is that BPACS can be used as a starting point to facilitate security cooperation and security force assistance activities in aviation.”

BPACS is a synchronized engagement that provides allies and partners the forum to identify unique opportunities for military forces to train and operate simultaneously within the European Theater.

The seminar was designed to bring NATO and partner nation military and civilian personnel together to build trust and partnerships, discussing interoperability and sharing a vision for partner nation aviation resource and enterprise development.