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US, Polish SOF enhance abilities through culmination exercise

Combat controllers from the U.S. and Polish forces conduct a military free fall during a culmination exercise near Krakow on Dec. 5, 2018.

Combat controllers from the U.S. and Polish forces conduct a military free fall during a culmination exercise near Krakow, Poland, December 5, 2018. The exercise follows a two-month training exercise in which the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command’s 321st Special Tactics Squadron assigned to the 352nd Special Operations Wing in the United Kingdom and the Polish Special Operations Combat Control Team, share their best practices in order to build upon the Polish Special Operations Command's ability to conduct special operations air-to-land integration. (Courtesy Photo)

KRAKOW, Poland (AFNS) -- Clouds make way for the first pass of combat controllers from the U.S. and Polish forces as they free fall out of an MC130J Commando during a culmination exercise near Krakow, Poland, recently. The joint team is determined to put all their training into action as they steer their parachutes onto the calculated target.

“We are in Poland to strengthen our already capable (Polish special operations) allies by advising them on how we conduct special operations air land integration,” said the 321st Special Tactics Squadron commander, assigned to the 352nd Special Operations Wing, based in the United Kingdom. “This will give our Polish allies the ability to survey, secure and control an austere airfield anywhere in Poland.”

The exercise was based on a real-world scenario which featured jumping into and seizing an unimproved airfield, where they completed tasks such as deploying undetected into hostile combat and austere environments, while simultaneously conducting air traffic control and command and control.

“The CULMEX was our final chance to see everything we've trained with our Polish counterparts,” said the 321st STS mission commander. “The 321 STS is extremely impressed with the high level of partnership and competency demonstrated by the soldiers of the Polish Special Operations Forces from Military Unit NIL.”

By sharing methods and developing best practices, U.S. and NATO partners around the world remain ready to respond to any potential real-world contingencies in Eastern Europe.

The team deployed to Poland months prior, in order to build upon Polish Special Operations Command's ability to conduct special operations air-to-land integration.

“We've been planning for two months,” said a 321st STS combat controller. “We've practiced basics of assault zones, air traffic control, completing surveys and what we call the global-access piece; our capability to find airfields anywhere in the world to forward project highly trained manpower and equipment whenever needed.”

Along with developing joint leaders, this deployment gave the units the opportunity to establish professional development at the tactical level.

“It helped us to learn our job better too; I feel like anytime you're training with another unit, it makes you that much better at your own skills. It allowed some of our younger guys to become leaders and put them in positions where they may not have been before,” said a 321st STS combat controller.

“We are very proud of our relationship with POLSOF and other NATO allies,” said the 321st STS commander. “We look forward to building and maintaining our abilities to conduct special operations (air-to-land) integration in Europe as a joint and ready force.”

Through these types of joint training exercises, special operation commands across the force stand ready to operate anytime, anyplace.

“This will ultimately increase the reach and the responsiveness of U.S. and NATO forces, deterring enemy aggression in Eastern Europe,” said the 321st STS commander. “Should the day come where we have to fight together in combat, I am confident in our joint capabilities.”

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