435th AGOW Air Advisors train Slovak Forces, strengthen NATO airfield security capabilities

Members of the 435 Air Contingency Response Support Squadron congratulate Slovakian Security Forces on their graduation. Apr. 22, 2023, at Sliac Air Base, Slovakia. This graduation represents the completion of rigorous training to certify them as Slovakian Security Forces. (U.S. Air Force by Captain Jacob Murray)

SLIAC, Slovakia, April 22 — Slovakia’s Air Forces Security Forces recently honored new graduates in a ceremony attended by leaders and Air Advisors from the 435th Contingency Response Support Squadron, who supported their training. This event marks a significant step toward Slovakia’s enhanced military readiness with the upcoming deployment of F-16 fighter jets.

Supporting the training are a specialized group of Air Advisors. These Airmen are experts in their career fields and specially trained to implement U.S. security cooperation strategy. “Our goal is to train a strong Slovakian security forces unit,” said TSgt. Jacob Tudor, Unit Training Manager for the 435th Contingency Response Support Squadron. “Our training emphasizes tactics, maneuverability, and firearm safety.”

Over a rigorous two-week capstone, the Air Advisors and Slovak forces focused on air base defense, force protection, and establishing secure base perimeters and entry controls. This training is critical to Slovakia’s capacity to protect these new assets.

The initiative is part of a $1.9 billion Foreign Military Sales case that will provide 14 F-16s to the Slovak Air Force, boosting NATO’s air power along the Eastern Flank.

This effort highlighted the strategic benefits of the joint training sessions. “Our presence here exemplifies successful security cooperation with a NATO ally,” said Lt. Col. David Pearce, Commander of the 435th Contingency Response Support Squadron. “We have achieved our training goals and strengthened ties between our forces.”

Not everyone who began the training would end up graduating, a testament to the high standards and selective nature of the program. “We don’t graduate everyone who starts the course,” said MSgt. William Noble, Air Advisor Flight Chief of the 435th Contingency Response Support Squadron. “We focus on quality, ensuring graduates are fully prepared to defend the F-16s and meet future challenges presented to our ally.”

The training is critical, as Slovakia is modernizing its air force with the acquisition of these Western-built fighter jets, following its donation of Soviet-era MiG-29s to Ukraine. The new F-16s represent a significant upgrade and are central to Slovakia’s defense strategy in the region.

Both U.S. and Slovakian forces are committed to ongoing cooperation, planning future training iterations. “It’s about more than just training; it’s about forging lasting bonds,” Pearce added. “These interactions go beyond professional development to personal relationships, which we believe will stand the test of time.”

This partnership not only boosts military readiness but also fortifies strategic ties between the U.S. and Slovakia, ensuring both nations are better prepared for future security challenges.