The Bloody Hundredth, Liberators among support for Exercise Trident Juncture 18

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Luke Milano
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Airmen and KC-135 Stratotankers from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, deployed to Rovaniemi, Finland, in support of NATO-led exercise Trident Juncture 18, Oct. 25 - Nov. 7, 2018.

Trident Juncture was the largest NATO exercise since 2002, and included 31 countries and more than 50,000 military members.

“Trident Juncture is important because we are working with countries we haven't worked with before, testing our interoperability and our ability to function in cold weather environments and receivers we may not be familiar with,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Alblinger, 100th ARW detachment commander of KC-135 operations in Rovaniemi, Finland. “For us, the goal is to learn our limitations, from a technical and flying aspect, and the objective was to make sure we had smooth and seamless operations.”

The exercise provided the Bloody Hundredth with unique opportunities to train with NATO allies and partners.

“One of the positive measures of being part of this exercise is getting to learn how the other nations operate and for us to come together for planning big operations and the executing,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jonathan Benson, 100th ARW detachment director of operations for KC-135 operations in Rovaniemi, Finland.

The exercise took place in Norway and the surrounding areas of the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea, including Iceland and the airspace of Finland and Sweden.

“Our crews have gone through special training to be able to operate in this cold weather environment,” Benson said. “We’ve had quite a few challenges working in this environment, but one of the things we’ve done is come prepared with 24-hour operation support, especially for our maintainers who have come in the middle of the night to keep our aircraft in good working order.”

Airmen from the Bloody Hundredth worked alongside U.S. Air Force Reserve aircrew from the 459th Air Refueling Wing, Joint-Base Andrews, Maryland, to aid in the refueling part of the exercise out of Rovaniemi.

“It’s not every day that we get to operate with a reserve aircrew and operations, so coming here gave us that opportunity with the 459th ARW to see how they operate,” Benson said.

Throughout the exercise, both units refueled 33 receivers from eight different nations with a total 167,000 pounds of fuel transferred.

“The maintainers here have been the star performers of this whole exercise,” Alblinger said. “They are out here all night long in subzero temperatures getting the jets together, so I’m proud of them and their nonstop attitude to get the job done.”

With exercises like this, the U.S., along with NATO allies and partners, stand together to ensure a Europe whole, free, prosperous and at peace.