Airmen augment Romanian security for NATO summit

CAMPIA TURZII, Romania — An Air Force F-15 from the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, UK, arrives March 26 in support of the Air Force's efforts to augment NATO air policing over Romania in support of the NATO Summit April 2-4. The summit will host leaders from NATO member nations, including President George W. Bush. (Department of Defense photo by Air Force Senior Airman Teresa M. Hawkins)

CAMPIA TURZII, Romania - Airmen from across U.S. Air Forces in Europe converged on locations throughout the continent this week to support Operation Noble Endeavor, a Romanian-led effort to police the skies above the upcoming NATO summit in Bucharest.

Hundreds of support, maintenance, operations and medical Airmen deployed to locations across eastern Europe as part of the 323rd Air Expeditionary Wing. Among the U.S. Air Force aircraft supporting the effort are KC-135 Stratotankers, F-15C and F-15E Strike Eagles. E-3 Sentries, and F-16 Falcons.

The summit, scheduled from April 2 to 4, will host leaders from NATO member nations, including President George W. Bush. The U.S. Air Force is augmenting the security at Romania's request. In addition to their air forces, the Romanians are providing air traffic control, airspace expertise and command authority.

"This is just one example in a long list of accomplishments of NATO nations working together toward a common purpose," said Col. Peter Davidson, 323rd AEW commander. "There is great strength in allied interoperability, and I'm proud to be a part of this mission."

At Campia Turzii, a Romanian airfield near Cluj, there were few buildings and no living quarters available when the first Airmen arrived. Civil engineers built a tent city with the help of other Airmen. The challenge was to build a tent city within two weeks of their arrival.

"I got here late at night, and there were only 10 tents set up," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Leslie Daily, 404th Air Expeditionary Group weather flight. "By noon the next day, there were 22 - they were slamming them up. We were working as a team, everyone's boots got muddy." Lt. Col. Troy Stone, 404th AEG commander, said the teamwork that went into building the tent city is the greatest strength of today's Air Force.

"People often think the Air Force is about flying planes," he said, "but this is what it's really about. Ours is one of the only air forces in the world with the ability to create an operating location anywhere from the ground up."

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