Carpathian Spring 2011 comes to a close

Story and photos by Tech. Sgt. Jocelyn L. Rich
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

After a week of training between more than 70 U.S. Airmen and Soldiers and their Romanian counterparts, Carpathian Spring officially came to a close March 18.

Members of the 37th Airlift Squadron, 435th Contingency Response Group, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and 5th Quartermaster Detachment were among the members involved in this year’s event held at Airlift Base Otopeni and Campia Turzii.

The weeklong annual exercise was designed to strengthen the partnership between the U.S. and Romanian air forces, while also enhancing their individual capabilities through training scenarios that are difficult to achieve at home station.

“All of our objectives were met,” said Lt. Col. Ed Watson, 37th Airlift Squadron pilot and deployed commander for the exercise, referencing not only the specific training requirements, but also the important objective of enhancing the partnership between the two nations.

“I think that (Carpathian Spring 2011) has gone very well,” said Maj. Michael Sheldon, U.S. Air Forces in Europe building partnership capacity coordinator for the exercise. “We do these often and it gets better each time. We have gotten a lot of good work done here. We have done interflies, personnel and cargo drops, worked with the loadmasters, all while doing so very proficiently and professionally working together with the Romanians.”

The Airmen working out of Campia Turzii were especially instrumental in ensuring success.

“Our mission has been to support the 37th AS’s training currencies,” said Master Sgt. Bryan Lakin, 435th CRG and team lead for the group at Campia Turzii. “We set up a covert landing zone, using infrared lights, so they can do the night vision work on the runway. We have also been out here supporting night and daytime combat offloads.”

Airmen have also been working with the Romanians in the air traffic control tower to ensure the two nations are learning to work together more cohesively.

“Air traffic control, the duty priority, is to separate aircraft and issue safety alerts,” said Tech. Sgt. Jeffery Vogel, 435th Air Mobility Squadron contingency air traffic controller. “Nothing changes.”

The equipment and the instruments that the U.S. and Romanian’s work with may have some technological differences, but fundamentally they work on the same basic concept, however that is not to say that the training did not come with any difficulty.

“This is why we do these, so it is not so challenging in the future. Each time we seem to learn from past experiences,” said Sergeant Vogel. “I am teaching them what our pattern profiles look like, in hopes that they are educated when they go down range and support us.”

And because of this hard work, success was achieved not only on the ground, but also in the skies.

The U.S. and Romanian paratroopers had their final static line and free fall jumps under the cover of sunshine and blue skies.

“It was a good jump,” said Master Sgt. Robert Zackery, 4th Air Support Operations Group military free fall jumpmaster. “The weather was perfect. We couldn’t have asked for better conditions.”