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US partners with Greece for bilateral training

A member of the 726th Air Mobility Squadron waits to marshal a C-130 Hercules on the flightline Aug. 9, 2014, at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Airmen from Spangdahlem AB will be supporting a bilateral training event with the Hellenic air force Aug. 11-23. The training aims to increase the military compatibility between the U.S. and Greece while sustaining capability to secure peace and stability in Europe. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee)

A member of the 726th Air Mobility Squadron waits to marshal a C-130 Hercules on the flightline Aug. 9, 2014, at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Airmen from Spangdahlem AB will be supporting a bilateral training event with the Hellenic air force Aug. 11-23. The training aims to increase the military compatibility between the U.S. and Greece while sustaining capability to secure peace and stability in Europe. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee)

An F-16 Fighting Falcon taxis on the flightline Aug. 8, 2014, at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The jet was departing for Souda Bay, Greece, and will be supporting a bilateral training event with the Hellenic air force Aug. 11-23. Nearly 20 aircraft left Spangdahlem AB in support of the training, which aims to enhance the capabilities of both air forces. The F-16 is assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee)

An F-16 Fighting Falcon taxis on the flightline Aug. 8, 2014, at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The jet was departing for Souda Bay, Greece, and will be supporting a bilateral training event with the Hellenic air force Aug. 11-23. Nearly 20 aircraft left Spangdahlem AB in support of the training, which aims to enhance the capabilities of both air forces. The F-16 is assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee)

A C-130 Hercules takes off Aug. 9, 2014, from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and is headed toward Souda Bay, Greece. Airmen from Spangdahlem AB will be supporting a bilateral training event with the Hellenic air force Aug. 11-23. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee)

A C-130 Hercules takes off Aug. 9, 2014, from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and is headed toward Souda Bay, Greece. Airmen from Spangdahlem AB will be supporting a bilateral training event with the Hellenic air force Aug. 11-23. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee)

SOUDA BAY, Greece (AFNS) -- Nearly 20 U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 480th Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, deployed to Souda Bay, Greece, for bilateral training with the Hellenic air force Aug. 11-23.

The Hellenic air force is Greece's air force, and the flying training deployment includes large force training events aimed to gauge the compatibility between the two nations with a focus on strengthening joint readiness.

"We very rarely go into combat just by ourselves, so this gives us an opportunity to go in with our NATO partners and train in the large force exercises and see all the different moving parts that happen," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Taylor Blevins, the 480th Fighter Squadron chief of weapons and tactics. "We gain some knowledge from our NATO partners, they gain some knowledge from us, and overall we gain some experience in airmanship working together."

Souda Bay is located on the island of Crete southeast of Athens. One of the station's primary functions is to support airborne operations in this strategically critical area of the world. Throughout the next two weeks, the Hellenic air force's 115th Combat Wing pilots will train with their U.S. counterparts here to enhance their capabilities with different flying roles: air-to-air combat, suppression of enemy air defense, air interdiction, counter-air and close air support.

The U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, the command that governs all U.S. air assets in Europe with the duty to train, equipped and deployed the combat-ready Airmen. Their posture is to continuously hone skills during peacetime, poise to address any security threats, and ensure regional peace and stability.

"Working with our NATO partners now allows us to train with these guys in a training environment," Blevins said. "So the next time we're working with them — potentially in a combat environment — we've already worked with them, already kind of seen their act and know what to expect. It makes us more ready for the battlefield, which obviously helps our combatant commanders and makes us more lethal as an overall fighting force.

"The training itself is going to be invaluable," he continued, "and it's going to be a great opportunity for us and the squadron."

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