Over the past two weeks, approximately 120 Airmen and 10 A-10C Thunderbolt II from the Maryland Air National Guard supported the Swift Response exercise with simultaneous operations in North Macedonia and Norway demonstrating Agile Combat Employment (ACE). The ACE concept exercises how Airmen can rapidly mobilize to deploy aircraft across a theater of operations on very short notice. Four A-10 aircraft arrived in Andøya Air Base in Andenes, Norway on May 6, where The 104th Fighter Squadron A-10s trained with U.S. and Norwegian joint terminal attack controllers (JTACS) at the Setermoen range.
“The weather was challenging but it didn’t keep us from flying and working with our partners,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Jeremy Waldschmidt, an A-10 pilot assigned to the 104th Fighter Squadron, MDANG, and the project officer for the Norway portion of the exercise. “Everyone here has been able to adapt and overcome while developing combat capabilities.”
“We are excited to be here in Europe to demonstrate how we are ready to protect and defend our allies,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Richard Hunt, vice wing commander, 175th Wing. “We train how we fight. I know our Airmen will excel while gaining realistic skill sets that are essential for modern warfare.”
At the same time six A-10 flew into North Macedonia on May 7, and along with another group of Maryland Airmen supported the exercise from Ohrid Airport in North Macedonia and conducted training with JTACS from the United Kingdom and Italy at the Krivolak range as well as supported the joint forcible entry (JFE) by allied paratroopers there. Distinguished visitors and senior military leaders watched various U.K. and U.S. rotary-wing aircraft during the JFE at Krivolak, while the A-10s provided close air support for the troops on the ground on the warm sunny day. Two day earlier and nearly 2,000 miles away, adverse winter weather conditions for the JFE at Altevan drop zone in the snowy mountains of Bardu, Norway only modified the training between the U.S. JTACS and the A-10s.
To build on the partnerships, Waldschmidt and other pilots hosted a tour of the A-10 for about 60 members of the Norwegian Armed Forces and Andoya Air Base employees. Two A-10s also performed a flyover during an open community event with military aircraft in Skopje, North Macedonia. After more Guard members arrive from Warfield Air National Guard Base at Martin State Airport more than 170 Airmen and all 10 A-10s will consolidate operations here before dispersing for training mission sorties in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland during the DEFENDER Europe 22 exercise. Exercise Swift Response is an annual U.S. Army Europe and Africa multinational training exercise that took place in Eastern Europe, the Arctic High North, Baltics, and Balkans.