HomeNewsArticle Display

McChord represents USAF in Ample Strike, NATO Days

A U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom sits inside a U.S. Air Force Globemaster III at Václav Havel Airport Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 14, 2018. Airmen from the 4th Airlift Squadron transported the helicopter and 10 Marines to the Czech Republic to participate in the NATO Days Air Show. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

A U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom sits inside a U.S. Air Force Globemaster III at Václav Havel Airport Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 14, 2018. Airmen from the 4th Airlift Squadron transported the helicopter and 10 Marines to the Czech Republic to participate in the NATO Days Air Show. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cameron Morris, 4th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, helps push a U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom off a C-17 Globemaster III at Václav Havel Airport Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 10, 2018. Morris, other 4th AS Airmen and ten marines worked together to load and offload the helicopter at various destinations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cameron Morris, 4th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, helps push a U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom off a C-17 Globemaster III at Václav Havel Airport Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 10, 2018. Morris, other 4th AS Airmen and ten marines worked together to load and offload the helicopter at various destinations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

A U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom sits inside a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Václav Havel Airport Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 10, 2018. Airmen from the 4th Airlift Squadron transported the helicopter to the Czech Republic so both aircraft could participate in the NATO Days Air Show held there. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

A U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom sits inside a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Václav Havel Airport Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 10, 2018. Airmen from the 4th Airlift Squadron transported the helicopter to the Czech Republic so both aircraft could participate in the NATO Days Air Show held there. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Marine Corps Marines prepare to load a UH-1Y Venom onto a C-17 Globemaster III at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 8, 2018. Airmen from the 4th Airlift Squadron transported the helicopter to the Czech Republic so both aircraft could participate in the NATO Days Air Show held there. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Marine Corps Marines prepare to load a UH-1Y Venom onto a C-17 Globemaster III at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 8, 2018. Airmen from the 4th Airlift Squadron transported the helicopter to the Czech Republic so both aircraft could participate in the NATO Days Air Show held there. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Elizabeth Silvers, 4th Airlift Squadron (AS) loadmaster, takes a photo with a child during the NATO Days Air Show in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Sept. 15, 2018. Silvers, along with other 4th AS Airmen, showed patrons of the air show the inside of their C-17 Globemaster III. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Elizabeth Silvers, 4th Airlift Squadron (AS) loadmaster, takes a photo with a child during the NATO Days Air Show in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Sept. 15, 2018. Silvers, along with other 4th AS Airmen, showed patrons of the air show the inside of their C-17 Globemaster III. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

Patrons of the NATO Days Air Show look at U.S. military ground and aviation equipment on display during the air show in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Sept. 15, 2018. McChord Field, Wash., provided a C-17 Globemaster III to be displayed during the air show. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

Patrons of the NATO Days Air Show look at U.S. military ground and aviation equipment on display during the air show in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Sept. 15, 2018. McChord Field, Wash., provided a C-17 Globemaster III to be displayed during the air show. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

A child holds a model of a C-17 Globemaster III while touring inside a McChord Field, Wash., C-17 during the NATO Days Air Show in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Sept. 16, 2018. Patrons of the air show were able to walk inside the aircraft and ask 4th Airlift Squadron Airmen questions about the plane. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

A child holds a model of a C-17 Globemaster III while touring inside a McChord Field, Wash., C-17 during the NATO Days Air Show in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Sept. 16, 2018. Patrons of the air show were able to walk inside the aircraft and ask 4th Airlift Squadron Airmen questions about the plane. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

Patrons of the NATO Days Air Show view NATO allies’ and partner nation’s military ground and aviation equipment on display during the air show in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Sept. 15, 2018. Airmen from the 4th Airlift Squadron, alongside 18 NATO allies and partner nations, provided military ground and aviation equipment for the air show. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

Patrons of the NATO Days Air Show view NATO allies’ and partner nation’s military ground and aviation equipment on display during the air show in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Sept. 15, 2018. Airmen from the 4th Airlift Squadron, alongside 18 NATO allies and partner nations, provided military ground and aviation equipment for the air show. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Marine Corps Marines look over their UH-1Y Venom after offloading it from a McChord Field, Wash., C-17 Globemaster III at Václav Havel Airport Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 10, 2018. The helicopter was transported to the Czech Republic to participate in the NATO Days Air Show. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Marine Corps Marines look over their UH-1Y Venom after offloading it from a McChord Field, Wash., C-17 Globemaster III at Václav Havel Airport Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 10, 2018. The helicopter was transported to the Czech Republic to participate in the NATO Days Air Show. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Kenneth Kaczmarek, 4th Airlift Squadron pilot, looks at a map while flying a C-17 Globemaster III during Exercise Ample Strike near Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 12, 2018. The purpose of the exercise was to increase NATO joint tactical attack controller proficiency levels, provide theater-realistic training opportunities for the participating personnel and improve standardization and interoperability between NATO allies and partner nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 10 of 15

U.S. Air Force Capt. Kenneth Kaczmarek, 4th Airlift Squadron pilot, looks at a map while flying a C-17 Globemaster III during Exercise Ample Strike near Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 12, 2018. The purpose of the exercise was to increase NATO joint tactical attack controller proficiency levels, provide theater-realistic training opportunities for the participating personnel and improve standardization and interoperability between NATO allies and partner nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

A Nebraska Air National Guard KC-135 Stratotanker gets into position in front of a McChord Field. Wash., C-17 Globemaster III during Exercise Ample Strike near Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 12, 2018. Pilots from the 4th Airlift Squadron received training and qualifications in air refueling during the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 11 of 15

A Nebraska Air National Guard KC-135 Stratotanker gets into position in front of a McChord Field. Wash., C-17 Globemaster III during Exercise Ample Strike near Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 12, 2018. Pilots from the 4th Airlift Squadron received training and qualifications in air refueling during the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Marine Corps Marines load a UH-1Y Venom onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Václav Havel Airport Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 14, 2018. Nelson and other 4th AS Airmen transported the helicopter and ten Marines to the Czech Republic to participate in the NATO Days Air Show. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 12 of 15

U.S. Marine Corps Marines load a UH-1Y Venom onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Václav Havel Airport Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 14, 2018. Nelson and other 4th AS Airmen transported the helicopter and ten Marines to the Czech Republic to participate in the NATO Days Air Show. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Ryan Nelson, 4th Airlift Squadron (AS) loadmaster, operates the winch while loading a U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom onto a C-17 Globemaster III at Václav Havel Airport Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 14, 2018. Nelson and other 4th AS Airmen transported the helicopter and ten Marines to the Czech Republic to participate in the NATO Days Air Show. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 13 of 15

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Ryan Nelson, 4th Airlift Squadron (AS) loadmaster, operates the winch while loading a U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom onto a C-17 Globemaster III at Václav Havel Airport Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 14, 2018. Nelson and other 4th AS Airmen transported the helicopter and ten Marines to the Czech Republic to participate in the NATO Days Air Show. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

A U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom sits inside a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept 8, 2018. Airmen from the 4th Airlift Squadron transported the helicopter to the Czech Republic so both aircraft could participate in the NATO Days Air Show held there. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 14 of 15

A U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom sits inside a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept 8, 2018. Airmen from the 4th Airlift Squadron transported the helicopter to the Czech Republic so both aircraft could participate in the NATO Days Air Show held there. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Elizabeth Silvers, 4th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, chains a U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom to a C-17 Globemaster III at Václav Havel Airport Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 10, 2018. The helicopter had to be held down with safety chains in case it slipped during the offload. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 15 of 15

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Elizabeth Silvers, 4th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, chains a U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom to a C-17 Globemaster III at Václav Havel Airport Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 10, 2018. The helicopter had to be held down with safety chains in case it slipped during the offload. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --

Exercise Ample Strike and NATO Days Air Show in the Czech Republic from Sept. 8 to 18 offered an opportunity for 62nd Airlift Wing Airmen from the 4th Airlift Squadron to integrate with NATO forces during a multinational exercise and outreach effort. This combined exercise directly supports 2018 National Defense Strategy Summary (NDSS) elements aimed at supporting interoperability as a priority.

This year marked the fourth iteration of Ample Strike, a Czech-led multinational, live exercise involving 19 NATO allies and partner nations in training areas across the southern region of the Czech Republic.

The C-17 Globemaster III 4th AS crew benefited from joint tactical air controller (JTAC) training with Czech JTACs and air refueling training.

“From the crew’s perspective, the training was absolutely invaluable and we feel our participation added value to the training on the ground,” said Lt. Col. Adam Knox, 4th AS director of operations. “From the larger perspective, the success of this exercise is truly multi-dimensional. At the individual level, we are forging professional bonds – by working side-by-side and sharing stories and experiences – that may, one day, prove useful in actual combat operations.”

When deployed or on a mission, aircrews need to be able to rely on and trust one another to do their job effectively and efficiently.

“I think that crew compliment is everything,” said Senior Airman Elizabeth Silvers, 4th AS loadmaster. “Being able to work together despite our differences and disagreements, to be cordial during those times, as well as picking each other up during times of high stress or fatigue. It was fun working with my crew to solve those unique problems.”

The success of the aircrew being able to work together transfers to the ability of that crew to work together with other military branches as well as other countries.

“At the unit level, we are able to work out any difficulties we have with the interoperability of our equipment in an exercise atmosphere prior to deploying together and discovering any issues during combat ops,” Knox said. “At the strategic level, when NATO countries come together to train, it demonstrates our ability and willingness to stand together against adversaries that threaten our shared values. Once you take a step back and tie it all together, it’s pretty humbling to realize the small role that our crew played in this multinational exercise is a direct projection of our Commander-in-Chief’s military instrument of national power.”

The purpose of the exercise was to increase JTAC proficiency levels, provide theater-realistic training opportunities for the participating personnel and improve standardization and interoperability between NATO allies and partner nations.

“I think it’s very important to work with other countries and teach them what we know and vice versa and get everyone on the same page,” Silvers said. “[It’s important] finding out where our weak points are before we need to implement strategy.”

The training opportunities provided during the exercise aligned with Air Mobility Command’s (AMC) vision for what C-17 crew should be focusing on now.

“In light of current tensions around the world, AMC has revised the training requirements for C-17 crews directing a focus on a near-peer type conflict and integrating our operations with fighters and other tactical aircraft,” Knox said. “In most cases, McChord C-17s conduct this training in the local area, simulating the addition of tactical ground controllers and ‘blue air’ support. However, Exercise Ample Strike allowed the 4th AS crew to directly address these training objectives with little to no simulations.”

[Editor’s Note: ‘blue air’ support refers to operational support the U.S. Air Force would receive from allied or partner nations during contingencies.]

“The training we received was absolutely top-notch,” he continued. “We worked directly with Czech military air traffic controllers and Czech JTACs. It’s very reassuring to know that their English is flawless and should we need to communicate during real-world operations, there will be no problems.”

After participating in Ample Strike, the 4th AS Airmen flew to Ostrava, Czech Republic, to display their C-17 in the NATO Days Air Show. The Czech-led air show included 19 NATO allies and partner nations to highlight military ground and aviation capabilities.

This year, the U.S. was designated as the special partner for the event and featured U.S. Army (USA) AH-64 Apaches, a U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) UH-1Y Venom, and a Nebraska Air National Guard (NE ANG) KC-135 Stratotanker alongside the McChord C-17. Also featured at the air show was a U.S. Air Force Reserve Command B-52 Stratofortress.

“It was an honor to represent the U.S. with the C-17 next to our brothers-in-arms from the USA, USMC and NE ANG,” Knox said. “We really enjoyed the opportunity to show-off our aircraft and talk about our mission to the people of Ostrava and Central Europe.”

The USMC UH-1Y and ten Marines were transported to the air show by 4th AS Airmen on the McChord C-17. This provided training for both Air Force and Marine crews to load and offload the helicopter onto the aircraft.

“The training for the helicopter crew and our loadmasters was unmatched,” Knox said. “For both crews, it was the first time loading a UH-1Y on a C-17. By the end of the trip, the helicopter had been off- and on-loaded three times and the final offload took only 30 minutes. In the end, the two separate crews came together to form a highly functional team in a very short time.”

Loading the helicopter onto the C-17 presented challenges for both Airmen and Marines, but they were able to learn from each progressive load and offload to become more proficient and learn from the issues that they were able to overcome.

“I’m glad I was able to do that because I feel like it’s one of those things I can share that experience with other people and they can learn from it,” Silvers said. “We had many problem-solving moments in that experience and we came together and made it happen.”

While participation in events like Exercise Ample Strike and the NATO Days Air Show highlight the importance of interoperability and cohesion among different military branches and nations for the 4th AS Airmen, it also showed the importance of working together as a team with their fellow crewmembers.

Exercise Ample Strike and NATO Days Air Show are an example of how the Air Force can strengthen its partnerships with allies and further their ability to operate as a team.