Ramstein Airmen, Bulgarian air force spring into exercise

Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Nesha Humes 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Capt. Mary Bordelon, 37th Airlift Squadron flight commander and Exercise Thracian Spring 17 mission commander talks with Master Sgt. Momchil Kostov, Bulgarian Special Operations 1st Battalion, 68th Brigade special warfare personnel, March 15 at Plovdiv Regional Airport, Bulgaria. Bordelon visited the drop zone team to watch the team execute the first personnel drop for the two-week exercise. The U.S. Air Force’s forward presence in Europe allows Airmen to work with our Nato allies and partners, to develop ready air forces capable of maintaining regional security

PLOVDIV, Bulgaria Airmen from the 86th Airlift Wing and 435th Contingency Response Group joined the Bulgarian air force to kick off Exercise Thracian Spring 17 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, March 14.

The two-week exercise is designed to provide both U.S. and Bulgarian Airmen the opportunity to train together while enhancing interoperability and improving combined air operations.

“Although we already have a strong military alliance with the Bulgarians, it’s important that we conduct these exercises.” said Capt. Mary Bordelon, 37th Airlift Squadron flight commander and Exercise Thracian Spring 17 mission commander.

“We’re testing our ability to deploy throughout the European theatre and deliver tactical airlift wherever is needed, especially in support of reassuring our nation’s commitment to our allies.”

The exercise is a direct reflection of the Signed Defense Cooperation Agreement, which the U.S. and Bulgaria signed in May 2006. The agreement gives the U.S. military access to facilitate joint training with the Bulgarian military.

Since the agreement’s inception, the 37 AS has trained with the Bulgarian Air Force more than 10 times.

“A lot of the training is happening hand in hand with the Bulgarian military,” Bordelon said. “It’s good to see that everyone is taking ownership of their roles. There are people from all different agencies on Ramstein and everyone is here to do a job.”

In addition to the aircrew, other specialties providing support are: contingency air traffic control, aircrew flight equipment, contracting, weather, intelligence, maintenance, and medical.

Bordelon is one of 60 Ramstein Airmen and said she’s very optimistic about the week.

“A lot of people showed up today and put in a long day,” she said. “We’re still pushing forward, so we can drive success for the rest of the deployment.