A-10s train with combat controllers during TSP

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Members of the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and 321st Special Tactics Squadron traveled to Nowe Miasto, Poland, to perform specialized training July 20-23, 2015.

During the day and night, 354th EFS A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft pilots performed unimproved surface landings on an austere landing strip, set up by 321st STS combat controllers, to simulate conditions of a deployed environment.

"The training we are getting here with our pilots will allow us to forward deploy even further than we already can," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Hayde, 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander. "In a real-life scenario, combat controllers and pilots with austere landing capabilities could land aircraft anywhere in enemy territory without leaving a large footprint."

An unimproved surface can be dirt, grass, sand, or any other type of rugged terrain.
The old runway where the training took place consisted of cracked, uneven asphalt and was previously only conquered by a few.

"We started with just two pilots in the entire squadron qualified and now we have an extra 10 qualified," Hayde said. "For this training, we'll have the first set of our brand new qualified instructors leading pilots."

The 354th EFS A-10 pilots in training are a part of the first European Theater Security Package in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. They are currently operating out of Lask Air Base, Poland, working together with NATO allies.

"The mission of the Theater Security Package is to reassure our NATO allies," Hayde said. "We have been doing that by providing micro deployments where we take four A-10s at a time to multiple countries. This is the final evolution of that. Now we are taking our entire squadron and putting them on an old runway in the middle of nowhere. We can land A-10s pretty much anywhere."