Air Force C-130s, Airmen deploy to Portugal for Real Thaw 18

Real Thaw 18 is a Portuguese-led exercise that invites armed forces from various countries to participate in training missions aimed at merging and deploying different platforms toward a major objective, covering a vast range of activities including air-to-air and air-to-ground training, tactical air transport operations and close air support.

Portuguese paratroopers board a C-130H3 Hercules at Monte Real Air Base, Portugal, Jan. 29, 2018. The Hercules, from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., flew the paratroopers as part of exercise Real Thaw 18. Real Thaw 18 is an annual two-week exercise that invites armed forces from various countries to participate in training missions aimed at merging and deploying different platforms toward a major objective, covering a vast range of activities including air-to-air and air-to-ground training, tactical air transport operations and close air support. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Park)

Real Thaw 18 is a Portuguese-led exercise that invites armed forces from various countries to participate in training missions aimed at merging and deploying different platforms toward a major objective, covering a vast range of activities including air-to-air and air-to-ground training, tactical air transport operations and close air support.

A Portuguese army jumpmaster, left, reviews a map with Capt. Christopher Retzlaff, navigator, in the back of a C-130H3 Hercules at Monte Real Air Base, Portugal, Jan. 29, 2018. The Hercules from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., carried 10 Portuguese paratroopers to the landing zone close to Beja, Portugal, in support of exercise Real Thaw 18. This annual two-week exercise invites armed forces from various countries to participate in training missions aimed at merging and deploying different platforms toward a major objective, covering a vast range of activities including air-to-air and air-to-ground training, tactical air transport operations and close air support. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Park)

Real Thaw 18 is a Portuguese-led exercise that invites armed forces from various countries to participate in training missions aimed at merging and deploying different platforms toward a major objective, covering a vast range of activities including air-to-air and air-to-ground training, tactical air transport operations and close air support.

Portuguese paratroopers jump out of the back of a C-130H3 Hercules from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., Jan. 29, 2018. The military members of both nations teamed up alongside several others in support of this year's exercise Real Thaw 18, a two-week exercise invites armed forces from various countries to participate in training missions aimed at merging and deploying different platforms toward a major objective, covering a vast range of activities including air-to-air and air-to-ground training, tactical air transport operations and close air support. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Park)

Real Thaw 18 is a Portuguese-led exercise that invites armed forces from various countries to participate in training missions aimed at merging and deploying different platforms toward a major objective, covering a vast range of activities including air-to-air and air-to-ground training, tactical air transport operations and close air support.

An Airman walks across the wing of a C-130H3 Hercules during a post-flight check at Monte Real Air Base, Leiria, Portugal, Jan. 27, 2018. Two Hercules from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., are participating in this year's Exercise Real Thaw, which is led by the Portuguese air force and includes a vast range of tactical training such as air-to-air and air-to-ground training, tactical air transport operations and close air support.(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Hayes)

Real Thaw 18 is a Portuguese-led exercise that invites armed forces from various countries to participate in training missions aimed at merging and deploying different platforms toward a major objective, covering a vast range of activities including air-to-air and air-to-ground training, tactical air transport operations and close air support.

A C-130H3 Hercules from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., lands at Monte Real Air Base, Portugal Jan. 27, 2018. The C-130 was one of two Hercules participating in Real Thaw 18, a Portuguese-led exercise inviting armed forces from various countries to participate in training missions aimed at merging and deploying different platforms toward a major objective, covering a vast range of activities including air-to-air and air-to-ground training, tactical air transport operations and close air support. (Courtesy photo by Manuel Cascalheira)

MONTE REAL AIR BASE, Portugal (AFNS) -- Approximately 50 Airmen and two C-130H3 Hercules assigned to the 94th Airlift Wing, Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, arrived at Monte Real Air Base, Portugal to participate in Real Thaw 18, a Portuguese-led exercise.

The annual two-week exercise includes armed forces from multiple nations participating in training missions aimed at merging and deploying different platforms toward a major objective, covering a vast range of activities including air-to-air and air-to-ground training, tactical air transport operations and close air support.

“It provides a unique training opportunity,” said Maj. Richard Konopczynski, 700th Airlift Squadron deputy mission commander. “We get to work with our coalition partners. We have other C-130 units here from different countries, and we get to not only compare our techniques, but also work in a deployed environment.”

This year’s exercise included 1,500 participants and 35 aircraft from Spain, Denmark, Netherlands, France, Portugal and the U.S.

The exercise also goes beyond the scope of flying missions to include support roles such as communications, security forces, maintenance and intelligence. The scenarios will integrate daily realistic interoperability tasks in the air and on the ground between multinational units.

“We set up a scenario that resembles a very specific situation in the world,” said Lt. Col. Joao Rosa, exercise coordinator and Portuguese air force fighter pilot. “We are simulating that we deployed a NATO force to a country. What we are going to do with all the types of aircraft we have, with all the army forces and navy forces, is to protect that small country.”

“The goal is for participants to know each other on a more personal level to establish rapport and create lasting bonds,” said Rosa. “The exercise brings everyone together as much as possible, whether it be flying, briefing or working together.”

These relationships have real-world consequences with much of the warfighting effort involving a number of allied forces from different countries working together now and in future contingency operations.

“It’s an opportunity to exercise a lot of our skills, tactics and procedures in a coalition environment,” said Konopczynski.

Dobbins ARB is participating for the first time in the exercise, which will last from Jan. 29 to Feb. 9, 2018.