Spanish, RAB Airmen participate in exercise Chasing Sol

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Megan Beatty and Airman 1st Class Madelyn Keech
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

ZARAGOZA, Spain – The Spanish air force hosted members of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army in Zaragoza, Spain, for exercise Chasing Sol from Jan. 23 to Feb. 3, 2023.

Chasing Sol is a bilateral flying training deployment between the 86th Airlift Wing and 435th Air Ground Operations Wing assigned to the U.S. Air Force, 21st Theater Sustainment Command’s 5th Quartermaster Company assigned to the U.S. Army, and 31st and 35th Tactical Airlift Wings assigned to the Spanish air force to increase readiness, responsiveness and interoperability between NATO allies.

“This FTD is different from others because it is the first time in over a decade C-130s and personnel assigned to Ramstein Air Base have done training with our allies at the Tactical Air Wing in Zaragoza,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Nicholas Donnelly, 37th Airlift Squadron instructor pilot and Chasing Sol mission commander. “This gives us a new environment to exercise tactical airlift, landing, zones drop zones, dropping different types of equipment and personnel.”

The objective of the exercise was to enhance interoperability and airlift capabilities among allied forces through realistic air operation scenarios.

The exercise included Agile Combat Employment, a concept allowing U.S. Air Force Airmen to operate from diverse locations with different levels of support. It ensures Airmen are able to deliver combat airpower throughout various military operations.

Training with allies and partners is essential to the ACE concept’s success, by allowing forces to familiarize themselves with allied militaries’ processes in order to share responsibilities between NATO forces for a common defense, said Donnelly.

“While we do have the same mission and same objectives within NATO, we all do our tasks differently,” said Donnelly. “These exercises help us iron out those differences. When it comes down to it, if we ever need to execute operationally we do not find those little speed bumps along the way.”

Three C-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the 37th Airlift Squadron along with Spanish air force A400M Atlas aircraft and Casa C-295 aircraft participated in the exercise.

U.S. Army and Spanish jumpmasters, airdrop riggers and drop zone controllers assigned to 5th QM coordinated static line and freefall jumps, along with cargo airdrops, with pilots assigned to the 37th AS and Spanish air force. The flying and airdrop operations in Zaragoza offered a new type of biome for the U.S. Air Force Airmen and Soldiers to operate in.

Additionally, members of the 86th Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape flight put members of the 37th Airlift Squadron to the test in the new environment through a search and rescue scenario during the exercise. The scenario included looking for a downed aircraft and crew, while the aircrew from the simulated crash signaled to the aircraft to be rescued.

“All of these skills are perishable,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Carlino, 86th Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape flight chief. “Sometimes you just need to refresh the information. Aircrew are no longer doing some of these skills during initial training, so this exercise is helping bridge that knowledge gap and maintain task proficiency.”

U.S. forces in Europe live, train and operate with allies and partners in strategic locations across the continent. Exercises like Chasing Sol improve coordination between allies and partners to ensure a timely and coordinated response during peacetime and crisis.