ANDRAVIDA AIR BASE, Greece --
Airmen, aircraft and support equipment from the 480th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron began flight operations in Greece for INIOHOS 19 on April 1, 2019. They joined air forces from Greece, Italy, Israel and NATO AWACS taking part in the Hellenic air force-led multinational flying exercise.
This annual exercise, conducted over the Mediterranean, Ionian, and Aegean seas and Greece, is designed to enhance the interoperability, capabilities and skills amongst allied and partner air forces in the accomplishment of joint operations and air defenses to maintain joint readiness and reassure regional allies and partners.
“This training is important because it allows us to operate with our partner nations and build the capabilities for future participation in other exercises or any other type of operations,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Addison Harding, 480th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron detachment commander. “We get to learn from each other and share knowledge that we don’t normally get at home station training.”
Participation in multinational exercises builds professional relationships and improves overall coordination with allies and partner militaries during times of crisis.
“They (allies and partner nations) come to an excellent environment for training with large air space and excellent weather,” said Hellenic air force Lt. Colonel Athanasios Gkioles, Hellenic Fighter Weapons School director of operations. “But more than that they get to see how we operate in a very strenuous environment. The participants get to find ways to corporate with each other under pressure.”
Forward locations enable collective defense capabilities and provide the U.S. and NATO the strategic and operational breadth needed to deter threats and assure allies and partners.
“There is no substitute for being able to be down here and be forward deployed and get the advance experience with other nations while we are in Greece,” said Harding. “The exercise has been valuable based on the integration between countries we normally don’t operate with. Additionally, our pilots and maintainers have had many opportunities to lead and gain experience in a unique location.”
As the exercise comes to a close, many friendships and partnerships have developed and strengthened.
“The Greeks have been very gracious hosts and have been more than accommodating for any requests that we have made,” said Harding. “They have been proactive in providing support to us, which has been very helpful.”