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US, Polish conclude Aviation Rotation 18-4

A U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the 86th Airlift Wing taxis toward the runway on Powidz Air Base, Poland, Aug. 3, 2018. For approximately two weeks, U.S. and Polish troops conducted bilateral aerospace exercises during Aviation Rotation 18-4. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Magbanua)

A U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the 86th Airlift Wing taxis toward the runway on Powidz Air Base, Poland, Aug. 3, 2018. For approximately two weeks, U.S. and Polish troops conducted bilateral aerospace exercises during Aviation Rotation 18-4. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Magbanua)

POWIDZ AIR BASE, Poland -- U.S. and Polish troops concluded more than two weeks of intense bilateral training at Powidz Air Base, Poland, Aug. 14, 2018.

The approximately 100-person strong team - comprising of Airmen, Soldiers, and civilians - arrived in the country to conduct exercise Aviation Detachment Rotation 18-4. The annual exercise featured multiple training events and scenarios, such as flight training which involved tactical evasions, assault landings on dirt fields, cargo and personnel airdrops, and aeromedical evacuation training.

“It was an awesome experience working with our Polish friends,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Zackery Williams, 37th Airlift Squadron instructor pilot and this year’s mission commander. “The country is amazing, and the people are gracious hosts.”

The exercise was a massive balancing act requiring full participation from a diverse spectrum of players: aircrew, maintainers, medics, ground crew, airfield management teams, airborne personnel, and much more.

While every team set their own goals for each day, the whole exercise centered upon two purposes: to improve warfighting skills and build partnerships with Polish allies.

“In each rotation, we are seeking to be more open,” said Polish air force Maj. Krzysztof Prabucki, maintenance squadron commander at Powidz Air Base. “We can ask more, (and) learn more—to know more for the future what we can expect from each other.”

This bilateral symphony eventually culminated into a spectacular crescendo: the U.S. and Polish capped off their training with an aerospace competition they call a “rodeo.”

The rodeo challenged both U.S. and Polish aircraft in various maneuvers such as formation flights, airdrops, and touch-and-go’s.

For U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Cameron Davis, 86th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, the whole event served as a testament to the friendship between the U.S. and Poland.

“It was interesting to see their aircraft and how they fly in formation,” he said. “It’s important for us to maintain our relationships with our allies here, and we should also get to know them personally as well, not just in a work situation. We work together, so we should also have fun together.”

Williams was impressed with the performance of the Polish air force during the competition and the exercise as a whole. He also noted that the annual exercises serve as both a reassurance of U.S. alliances in Europe and a strategic deterrence toward any threats in the region.

“The Americans did well; the Polish did better,” Williams said. “Every time we come here, we reiterate the importance of the Poland as a NATO ally and the importance of our two nations integrating aircraft and personnel to work toward the same goal.”

The whole team encountered some challenges along the way, but they worked hard to overcome these challenges and prevailed, he added.

Davis said that while he was looking forward to going home after an intense exercise, he will miss Poland.

“It was fun being here, and I made memories I will never forget,” he said. “I look forward to coming back some day.