By Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle
167th Airlift Wing
167th Airlift Wing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft crew, maintainers and air transportation specialists supported large-scale multi-national exercises Swift Response and DEFENDER-Europe 22 held in locations throughout Europe in May.
Swift Response and DEFENDER-Europe 22 are annual exercises aimed at building preparedness and interoperability between U.S. and NATO allies and partners.
The 167th provided rapid global mobility of 518 personnel and 383 tons of cargo for the Maryland’s 175th Wing and for the Colorado Army National Guard, flying a total of 40 sorties across the Baltic and Balkan regions.
As part DEFENDER-Europe 22, the 167th’s C-17 transported a HIMARS, High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, to Denmark to perform a rapid infiltration exercise. With aircraft engines running, the HIMARS was off-loaded, simulated a fire strike and then reloaded to the C-17 for a quick departure.
The 167th also supported the 104th Fighter Squadron of the 175th Wing, transporting equipment and Airmen tasked to arm and refuel the unit’s A-10C Thunderbolt II attack planes as they exercised their Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concepts.
“Our main role there was to support the A-10’s, so we bounced around from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, North Macedonia,” said Capt. Trebor Taylor, 167th Airlift Squadron C-17 aircraft pilot. “With ACE in mind, we’d go to a location, they’d do a mission out of there and then we’d pack them up and move to the next location to keep the rotation flowing.”
As part of an Integrated Combat Turn event, the C-17 crew flew five legs in one day, with engine-running operations at each location to support the A-10 mission.
“We started an hour late due to issues outside of our control but we ended an hour early and met the specified times at each location, which is critical to the A-10’s mission. The [loadmasters] really knocked it out of the park that day,” said Taylor.
With the exception of two minor setbacks, the crew executed their flights for the exercise with perfect timing, according to Taylor. That’s in spite of flying into unfamiliar airfields, some with limited ground support.
“That’s an important takeaway from this exercise. We supported the A-10’s but now we also understand the constraints of some of these airfields for the next time we use them,” Taylor said.