Greek, US training ends with strengthened bonds

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft pilot launches his jet Aug. 18, 2014, at Souda Bay, Greece, during a training event between Greece and the U.S. The training included 22 aircraft launches a day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft pilot launches his jet Aug. 18, 2014, at Souda Bay, Greece, during a training event between Greece and the U.S. The training included 22 aircraft launches a day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

A pilot from the 480th Fighter Squadron from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, briefs a group of U.S. and Greek pilots Aug. 12, 2014, before a flying mission at the bilateral training event in Souda Bay, Greece. The pilots attend the mass briefing to clarify the objectives of the day's training and to receive the latest information on the weather and threat intelligence. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

A pilot from the 480th Fighter Squadron from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, briefs a group of U.S. and Greek pilots Aug. 12, 2014, before a flying mission at the bilateral training event in Souda Bay, Greece. The pilots attend the mass briefing to clarify the objectives of the day's training and to receive the latest information on the weather and threat intelligence. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

U.S. Air Force pilots walk toward the flightline Aug. 12, 2014, at a training event in Souda Bay, Greece. The Hellenic and U.S. air forces prepared more than 20 aircraft launches a day for this planned two-week bilateral training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

U.S. Air Force pilots walk toward the flightline Aug. 12, 2014, at a training event in Souda Bay, Greece. The Hellenic and U.S. air forces prepared more than 20 aircraft launches a day for this planned two-week bilateral training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Alec Vautherot, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron 480th Aircraft Maintenance Unit electrical environmental specialist and native of Waterford, Mich., reviews a technical order before beginning preventative maintenance on a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft at Souda Bay, Greece, Aug. 20, 2014. The equipment Vautherot uses must be checked out each morning from a controlled supply line. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Alec Vautherot, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron 480th Aircraft Maintenance Unit electrical environmental specialist and native of Waterford, Mich., reviews a technical order before beginning preventative maintenance on a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft at Souda Bay, Greece, Aug. 20, 2014. The equipment Vautherot uses must be checked out each morning from a controlled supply line. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Alan Nelson, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's 480th Aircraft Maintenance Unit  and native of Pensacola, Fla., watches the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft of U.S. Air Force Col. Pete Bilodeau, 52nd Fighter Wing commander, during a bilateral training event in Souda Bay, Greece, Aug. 12, 2014. Bilodeau flew out to Souda Bay from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, to meet with the Hellenic air force's 115th Combat Wing commander and participate in one of the initial days of the training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Alan Nelson, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's 480th Aircraft Maintenance Unit and native of Pensacola, Fla., watches the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft of U.S. Air Force Col. Pete Bilodeau, 52nd Fighter Wing commander, during a bilateral training event in Souda Bay, Greece, Aug. 12, 2014. Bilodeau flew out to Souda Bay from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, to meet with the Hellenic air force's 115th Combat Wing commander and participate in one of the initial days of the training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft pilot takes off Aug. 12, 2014, from the flightline at Souda Bay, Greece, during a two-week training event with the Hellenic air force. The two nations partnered to enhance their breadth of air dominance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft pilot takes off Aug. 12, 2014, from the flightline at Souda Bay, Greece, during a two-week training event with the Hellenic air force. The two nations partnered to enhance their breadth of air dominance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft pilot from the 480th Fighter Squadron taxis to the end of the flightline prior to his launch at Souda Bay, Greece, during a training event Aug. 12, 2014. The U.S. pilots worked with the Hellenic air force in air to complete various training objectives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft pilot from the 480th Fighter Squadron taxis to the end of the flightline prior to his launch at Souda Bay, Greece, during a training event Aug. 12, 2014. The U.S. pilots worked with the Hellenic air force in air to complete various training objectives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft sit on the flightline Aug. 18, 2014, at Souda Bay, Greece, during a training event between the U.S. and Hellenic air forces. The swing-shift maintenance crews are preparing some of the aircraft for an early-morning takeoff for the U.S. and Greek pilots to train together. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft sit on the flightline Aug. 18, 2014, at Souda Bay, Greece, during a training event between the U.S. and Hellenic air forces. The swing-shift maintenance crews are preparing some of the aircraft for an early-morning takeoff for the U.S. and Greek pilots to train together. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

Two U.S. Air Force Airmen talk about the morning's preparation for the day's first F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft launch Aug. 18, 2014, at Souda Bay, Greece. This is the second week of training between the U.S. and Hellenic air forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

Two U.S. Air Force Airmen talk about the morning's preparation for the day's first F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft launch Aug. 18, 2014, at Souda Bay, Greece. This is the second week of training between the U.S. and Hellenic air forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft pilot from the 480th Fighter Squadron waits to taxi to the flightline Aug. 18, 2014, during a training event between the U.S. and Hellenic air forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)
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A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft pilot from the 480th Fighter Squadron waits to taxi to the flightline Aug. 18, 2014, during a training event between the U.S. and Hellenic air forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Miguel Dietrich, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief and native of Independence, Calif., waits to marshal an F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft pilot to the flightline Aug. 18, 2014, during a training event between Greece and the U.S. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)
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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Miguel Dietrich, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief and native of Independence, Calif., waits to marshal an F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft pilot to the flightline Aug. 18, 2014, during a training event between Greece and the U.S. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft pilot taxis to the flightline Aug. 18, 2014, at Souda Bay, Greece, during a two-week training event between Greece and the U.S. The training allows the NATO partners to fly together during peacetime to strengthen their joint military capability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)
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A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft pilot taxis to the flightline Aug. 18, 2014, at Souda Bay, Greece, during a two-week training event between Greece and the U.S. The training allows the NATO partners to fly together during peacetime to strengthen their joint military capability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

Tool kits sit inside the 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's equipment checkout area in Souda Bay, Greece, Aug. 20, 2014. Each set of equipment has a unique identifier that is tracked by the Airmen who run the supply line. Every morning, the Airmen run an accountability of their inventory and check out the equipment to fellow maintainers who can then work on aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)
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Tool kits sit inside the 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's equipment checkout area in Souda Bay, Greece, Aug. 20, 2014. Each set of equipment has a unique identifier that is tracked by the Airmen who run the supply line. Every morning, the Airmen run an accountability of their inventory and check out the equipment to fellow maintainers who can then work on aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kimberly Szydlowski, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron 480th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-16 crew chief and native of St. Louis, Mo., checks out a launch kit from the equipment supply line at Souda Bay, Greece, Aug. 20, 2014. The different kits have a varying amount of equipment inside — ranging from as few as 20 pieces to more than 700 — and the maintainers must take accountability for the equipment they check out. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)
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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kimberly Szydlowski, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron 480th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-16 crew chief and native of St. Louis, Mo., checks out a launch kit from the equipment supply line at Souda Bay, Greece, Aug. 20, 2014. The different kits have a varying amount of equipment inside — ranging from as few as 20 pieces to more than 700 — and the maintainers must take accountability for the equipment they check out. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airmen check out equipment from the 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's supply line in Souda Bay, Greece, Aug. 20, 2014. The Airmen who work in this section maintain accountability for all the tools and equipment needed to perform maintenance on the 480th Fighter Squadron's F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)
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U.S. Air Force Airmen check out equipment from the 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's supply line in Souda Bay, Greece, Aug. 20, 2014. The Airmen who work in this section maintain accountability for all the tools and equipment needed to perform maintenance on the 480th Fighter Squadron's F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Coleman Haynes, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron support technician and native of Nevis, Minn., checks out equipment to U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dionne Williams, 52nd AMXS 480th Aircraft Maintenance Unit jet engine technician and native of Honolulu, Hawaii, at the squadron's supply area in Souda Bay, Greece, Aug. 20, 2014. The launch expectation during the bilateral training between the Hellenic and U.S. air forces is 22 sorties a day, which then requires the constant work of maintenance technicians to sustain aircraft readiness to meet the mission needs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)
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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Coleman Haynes, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron support technician and native of Nevis, Minn., checks out equipment to U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dionne Williams, 52nd AMXS 480th Aircraft Maintenance Unit jet engine technician and native of Honolulu, Hawaii, at the squadron's supply area in Souda Bay, Greece, Aug. 20, 2014. The launch expectation during the bilateral training between the Hellenic and U.S. air forces is 22 sorties a day, which then requires the constant work of maintenance technicians to sustain aircraft readiness to meet the mission needs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)

SOUDA BAY, Greece -- The two-week bilateral training between the Hellenic and U.S. air forces ended Aug. 23.

As the U.S. service members departed for their home station at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, the pilots reflected on the outcome of this peacetime training event.

"The Hellenic air force and the U.S. Air Force have their own way of doing business, and we are good at it," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David Berkland, 480th Fighter Squadron commander. "But when you combine their air force with the way our air force operates, there are some limitations. Every day we get better at that interoperability piece, and both sides have seen significant improvements in our performance."

"Every day, we're working on interoperability," he emphasized. "It's absolutely essential to our ability to go to war with our coalition partners, and we train like this so that on day one of a conflict, we've already worked out a lot of these interoperability issues."

The U.S. air force launched nearly 200 individual sorties throughout this two-week period, each with a specific mission of enhancing the military compatibility between the two nations. The mission objectives required both air forces to integrate and prove their capabilities in air-to-air and air-to-surface combat, a multi-role to which the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft is geared.

"For us, it's really neat to be able to come here and train with the 343rd and 340th Fighter Squadrons because they also fly the F-16," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Kyle Davis, 480th FS pilot. "They bring different things to the fight than we do even though we fly the same jet. So we may be strong in certain areas, but they're strong in others. So training together with them, we really got to promote our own strengths and also fill in each others' weaknesses, and truly build a stronger fighting force together."

Greece is a longstanding NATO ally and has supported many joint objectives throughout the years. The country has promoted Balkan stability and economic development, and contributes forces to both the NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and United Nations peacekeeping missions. Greece leadership has also provided the U.S. with access to the region to operate key military installations, such as the Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, a combined airfield and seaport facility that is the largest deepwater port in the eastern Mediterranean.

With the conclusion of this joint training, the Hellenic air force leadership feels they are demonstrating their commitment to a peaceful, stable and secure Europe.

"I think everything went well," said Hellenic air force Lt. Col. Michail Tsikalakis, 343rd FS commander. "Greece and the United States are proven partners with a long military relationship. It's strong, I think, and based on common values of democracy and freedom. We've had many (cooperation events) throughout the years, and we're looking to future challenges, training how we fight.

"We are confident to fly with the U.S. pilots now," he continued. "We have common training and common procedures. We see in the air that it works, and we're ready to fly and fight in a war together."

Davis said U.S. fighter squadrons in Europe have a unique chance to work with coalition partners who desire to train together. And as the Defense Department continues to operate in a fiscally constrained environment, it is even more important to take the opportunities when they are available.

"Because when it comes down to it, we need to be able to work with our partner nations to be able to provide an effective force no matter what type of engagements we find ourselves in," he said. "We're not going to do it by ourselves; we're going to do it with the Greek air force. We're going to partner with some of the other countries that surround us. And so flying with them proves the point that we can do it, but it also really helps us understand how to do it better in the future and make the total package of coalition partners a much more lethal fighting force."

The Aug. 23 date may have marked the end of face-to-face training; however, both countries aim to meet or exceed the NATO standard of operations. Collectively, this European partnership will continue to provide security, protect global interests and bolster economic bonds.