Army, Air Force work together for Swift Response 19

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jessica Kendziorek
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

Service members from across two continents worked together during the exercise Swift Response 19, proving that teamwork successfully accomplishes the mission.

“We have a team mostly made up of both Army and Air Force National Guard and Reserve members, with a small contingent of active duty members,” said Army Col. James Bartholomees, Commander, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (AB). “The due diligence is absolutely paying off and we are excited about the Airborne operations of Swift Response 19.”

Both Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Citizen Airmen, along with Italian and Spanish airlift units, provided airlift and airdrop capabilities during SR19. While the U.S. Army’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina evaluated the readiness of the core ground component of the U.S. Global Response Force.

“We gain a ton working together as a joint force when we do these exercises together,” said Bartholomees. “Our goal is to meet the joint training objectives.”

The exercise includes approximately 5,600 participants from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States and took place at locations in Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania, with additional staging bases in Germany, Italy, Slovenia and the U.K.

Swift Response 19 is one of the premier military crisis response training events featuring high readiness airborne forces. Activities include intermediate staging base operations, multiple airborne operations, and several air assault operations.

Bartholomees said that this exercise has been in the planning stages for a year and is important for joint operability.

The air operability side of the mission planning portion was handled by Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 815th Airlift Squadron, or Flying Jennies from the 403rd Wing, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi.

“This was a complex puzzle for strategic airlift involving C-130Js, C-130Hs, and C-17s,” said Lt. Col. Stephanie Brown, 815th AS pilot and the air boss of the SR19 exercise. “As a reservist, the planning side is not something we do every day, but it was good training so we stepped in and got the job done.”

The 815th AS had 100 percent mission completion, dropping more than 680 paratroopers into two drop zones and also providing air lift assistance by delivering ground mobility vehicles and pallets into Bulgaria.

“The tenacity of members of the 815th AS was noted in the expertise of Capt. Michael Plash, pilot, in ensuring the passenger manifests of the Airborne units were up-to-date and ready for each mission,” said Brown.  “And Maj. Ben Jones, pilot, made sure that the flight plans for all of the aircraft were not denied across the European air space.”

Working with eight nations to achieve joint operability was a demonstration of our nation and our NATO allies’ response capability in the event of a crisis, said Brown.

She went on to note the Swift Response parallel to D-Day adding, “Hopefully this also shows that with joint operability and cooperation we can prevent another D-Day.”

Maj. Kevin Olsen, 815th AS pilot, who handled a large portion of the air operations planning, said “I am proud of how our members handled themselves. Their professionalism and perseverance was really needed to get the job done.”

Time is of the essence, whether it be for exercises in peacetime or supplying reinforcement in an emerging crisis. Military mobility ensures our troops and equipment can deploy across Europe without delay.