Mihai Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania — Swift Response is part of a U.S Army-led exercise known as Defender-Europe 21 which involves more than 7,000 troops and 12 countries.
The exercise is designed to build interoperability among U.S. and NATO allies. This year’s portion in Romania was NATO-led by the Royal Netherlands air force, May 8-14.
“We are working hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder with the Dutch, Germans, Romanians and the Polish. Dropping troops in a single formation at the same time,” said Capt. William Cox, 37th Airlift Squadron mission commander.
The 86th Airlift Wing provided two C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to enable paratroopers with the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, Polish 6th Airborne Brigade, Dutch 11th Air Assault Brigade, and Romanian Troopers to land in Bobac airfield. These strategic jumps are known as Joint Forcible Entries and the exercise as a whole is a demonstration to deter aggression.
“Due to COVID-19, each NATO partner had different rules to follow to participate and we had to navigate all of the rules to mitigate risks while operating in a coalition,” said Capt. Derek Hale 37th Airlift Squadron deputy airlift mission commander.
Despite COVID-19, the U.S Air Force and NATO allies were able to demonstrate multiple airdrops as well as mobilization of anti-tank lightweight vehicles and personnel.
Swift Response 2021 was different from prior exercises because it was NATO-led by the Royal Netherlands air force, allowing the U.S. to demonstrate its commitment to NATO allies.
“That says a lot about their capabilities and our capabilities to be a supportive ally,” said Maj. Andy Forsyth, 37th Airlift Squadron mission commander. “I’d like to say thanks to all the NATO allies we got to plan and fly with. It was awesome to see the Royal Netherlands air force take the lead on this one and I’m glad they invited us to play.”