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Illinois Air National Guard Soars Skies over Poland

POWIDZ AIR BASE, Poland -- Airmen from the U.S. and Polish air forces started training together Oct. 15, at Powidz Air Base, Poland, for the start of Aviation Detachment rotation 15-1.

Roughly 50 Airmen and three C-130 Hercules from the Illinois Air National Guard's 182nd Airlift Wing will participate in the training hosted by Detachment 1, 52nd Operations Group, at Lask Air Base, Poland.

"Our mission here is to support the aviation detachment rotation and build upon the interoperability between our two forces," said Lt. Col. Douglas Applegren, the chief of tactics for rotation 15-1. "We have been looking forward to this rotation ever since we found out about it, and our Airmen are excited to work and train together with the Polish air force."

It's also the first time an ANG unit has supported a C-130 rotation at the Aviation Detachment in Poland. The bilateral training aims to maintain joint readiness and reassure regional allies and partners.

Ten Airmen assigned to the Det. 1, 52nd OG, serve as an enduring, forward-persistent presence to enable combined U.S. and Polish training and exercises to increase cooperation, enduring partnership and build interoperability between NATO partners.

"NATO's interoperability is key to the strength of the alliance," said Lt. Col. Jack Harman, the Det. 1 , 52nd OG, commander. "The Aviation Detachment builds on this by enabling U.S. aircraft to train with allies in a vital area of the world. As Poland's state partner, the Illinois Air National Guard Airmen continue to deepen established relationships and build partner capacity between U.S. and Polish forces. In all, the combined efforts from the outstanding Airmen of the Aviation Detachment, the 182nd Airlift Wing, and 33rd Air Base will display impeccable cooperation, readiness, and flexibility throughout the bilateral training to make this rotation a success."

Former U.S. Ambassador to Poland Lee Feinstein and former Polish Minister of Defense Bogdan Klich signed a memorandum of understanding June 13, 2011, establishing a U.S. Air Force Aviation Detachment in Poland.

The detachment later stood up at Lask AB in November 2012 and is supported by the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.

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Air Force Poland