71st AIR BASE, Romania --
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Scott Rice, Air National Guard director, and Chief Master Sgt. Ronald Anderson, ANG command chief, visited guardsmen from the 131st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from the Massachusetts ANG, at Romanian Air Force 71st Air Base, Câmpia Turzii, Romania, June 22, 2018.
Approximately 300 guardsmen, along with smaller supporting units from Spangdahlem Air Base and Ramstein Air Base, Germany, are training with the Romanian air forces.
“Having our Airmen in this region helps us execute three major parts of our mission; assurance, deterrence and interoperability,” Rice said. “We’re building relationships with the locals, cultivating a give and take relationship with the Romanian Air Force, and training our Airmen to be experts at what they do.”
The 131st EFS is deployed to Romania as part of a Theater Security Package in support of Operation Dacian Eagle 2018. The 131st EFS, flying the F-15C Eagle, trains with the RoAF, flying the MiG-21 Lancer, during joint training missions to better respond to potential security and humanitarian emergencies.
The day started with RoAF leadership, to include Air Force Gen. Viorel Pană, chief of staff, and Brig. Gen. Lian Somesan, RoAF deputy commander, greeting Rice and Anderson, followed by an inspection of the troops, where Rice and Pana inspected the Romanian band during the playing of both nations’ national anthems.
“We’re honored to have the leaders of the U.S. Air Force guardsmen here seeing the amazing relationship we share,” Pană said. “The support and expertise we receive is incredible.”
Afterwards, Lt. Col. Eric Armentrout, 131st EFS commander, and Romanian pilots briefed Rice and Anderson about the base, its mission and plans for future training between the 131st and local personnel.
“We’re working side by-side every day and learning a lot from each other,” Armentrout said. “The Romanians are eager to learn and this gives us many opportunities to perfect our skills and execute the mission.”
Rice and Anderson then toured the base facilities before visiting the MiG 21-LanceR Combat Mission Trainer, a flight simulator used by Romanian pilots.
The tour of the installation continued with a visit to areas such as the air traffic control tower and a display of the weapons capabilities of the Romanian aircraft on the flightline.
“The synergy between our F-15s and Mig-21s is crucial for success,” Rice said. “We need to rely on our NATO allies and mission partners to prepare for any situation.”
During this portion of the tour, Rice spoke with Romanian pilots and crew chiefs, sharing knowledge and experiences of aircraft utilized by both nations.
“It’s ironic that back in the 80’s, when I was a young officer, we were planning out how to take down the MiG-21s, but today we’re working together as allies,” said Rice. “I think it’s a testament to how far we’ve come and we have more in common as human beings than we tend to think.”
The touring portion of the day ended with a lunch with Romanian leadership, to include the Chief of the General Staff, Gen. Nicolae-lonel Ciucă.
Ciuca and Rice discussed goals, concerns and ideas for current and future military coordination between the U.S. and Romania.
“We’re giving our enlisted personnel more and more responsibility and training to be as well rounded as the American enlisted troops,” Ciucă said. “The partnership between our respective nations is an ongoing and prosperous one. We look forward to many more years of cooperation and friendship.”
After this meeting, Rice and Anderson visited the guardsmen from the 131st EFS during an all-call.
During this all-call, they talked about the importance and accomplishments of the Airmen in this region and thanked them for their professionalism.
“You are all doing amazing things,” Anderson said. “You are the quiet professionals. What you’re accomplishing in this region is raising the standard of how business is done and you’re crushing the mission every day.”
Anderson continued on.
“We wanted to meet with you so we could not just thank you, but also learn what the friction points are,” Anderson said. “We want to brag about you where you succeed and help you where you need it. I want you make your jobs easier.”
Rice and Anderson continued on to their final briefings before ending their visit.
“We’re building peace throughout the world,” Rice said. “We rely on our experienced mid to senior level enlisted leadership to provide that operational expertise. The strength our military culture is our flexibility, adaptability and our enlisted personnel being the problem solvers. They have a hunger for excellence and we could not ask for a better family of Airmen.”