NATO forces partner for Thracian Summer
“It's an incredible display of the work ethic and drive of our Airmen,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Christopher Scott, 37th AS pilot. “It is imperative to be able to integrate with multiple agencies within the [European Command} and operate in a moment's notice with our NATO partners.”
Airmen from the 37th Airlift Squadron inspect C-130J Super Hercules before a formation flight during Exercise Thracian Summer 2016 July 17, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. During the two-week forward training deployment, the 37th Airlift Squadron are conducting tactical flight training which include low-level flights, airdrop training with partnered forces and other related training events. The evolutions help preserve joint readiness, build interoperability and strengthen relationships with our NATO allies.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)
6 photos: United States European Command Image
Photo 1 of 6: Airmen from the 37th Airlift Squadron inspect C-130J Super Hercules before a formation flight during Exercise Thracian Summer 2016 July 17, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. During the two-week forward training deployment, the 37th Airlift Squadron are conducting tactical flight training which include low-level flights, airdrop training with partnered forces and other related training events. The evolutions help preserve joint readiness, build interoperability and strengthen relationships with our NATO allies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim) Download full-resolution version
Senior Airman Emily Mitchell and Staff Sgt. Joshua Nelson, both 37th Airlift Squadron loadmasters secure cargo into a before flight during Exercise Thracian Summer 2016 July 17, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Through strengthened relationships and consistent training exercises with allies and partners, the U.S. demonstrates its shared commitment to a safe and secure Europe. These off-station training events improve interoperability with international partners to ensure that we train like we fight when and if called upon to do so in the future. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)
6 photos: United States European Command Image
Photo 2 of 6: Senior Airman Emily Mitchell and Staff Sgt. Joshua Nelson, both 37th Airlift Squadron loadmasters secure cargo into a before flight during Exercise Thracian Summer 2016 July 17, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Through strengthened relationships and consistent training exercises with allies and partners, the U.S. demonstrates its shared commitment to a safe and secure Europe. These off-station training events improve interoperability with international partners to ensure that we train like we fight when and if called upon to do so in the future. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim) Download full-resolution version
Senior Airman Emily Mitchell, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster prepares a C-130J Super Hercules before flight during Exercise Thracian Summer 2016 July 17, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. During the two-week forward training deployment, the 37th Airlift Squadron are conducting tactical flight training which include low-level flights, airdrop training with partnered forces and other related training events. The evolutions help preserve joint readiness, build interoperability and strengthen relationships with our NATO allies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)
6 photos: United States European Command Image
Photo 3 of 6: Senior Airman Emily Mitchell, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster prepares a C-130J Super Hercules before flight during Exercise Thracian Summer 2016 July 17, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. During the two-week forward training deployment, the 37th Airlift Squadron are conducting tactical flight training which include low-level flights, airdrop training with partnered forces and other related training events. The evolutions help preserve joint readiness, build interoperability and strengthen relationships with our NATO allies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim) Download full-resolution version
Capt. Derek Patrick, 37th Airlift Squadron pilot, flies over Plovdiv, Bulgaria during a formation flight during Exercise Thracian Summer 2016 July 17, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Through Exercise Thracian Summer, the U.S. and Bulgaria will enhance their mutual ability to work together, with other NATO nations, and with key partners on regional security (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)
6 photos: United States European Command Image
Photo 4 of 6: Capt. Derek Patrick, 37th Airlift Squadron pilot, flies over Plovdiv, Bulgaria during a formation flight during Exercise Thracian Summer 2016 July 17, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Through Exercise Thracian Summer, the U.S. and Bulgaria will enhance their mutual ability to work together, with other NATO nations, and with key partners on regional security (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim) Download full-resolution version
Senior Airman Emily Mitchell and Staff Sgt. Joshua Nelson, both 37th Airlift Squadron loadmasters sit on the ramp of a C-130J Super Hercules during a formation flight during Exercise Thracian Summer 2016 July 17, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Through Exercise Thracian Summer, the U.S. and Bulgaria will enhance their mutual ability to work together, with other NATO nations, and with key partners on regional security (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)
6 photos: United States European Command Image
Photo 5 of 6: Senior Airman Emily Mitchell and Staff Sgt. Joshua Nelson, both 37th Airlift Squadron loadmasters sit on the ramp of a C-130J Super Hercules during a formation flight during Exercise Thracian Summer 2016 July 17, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Through Exercise Thracian Summer, the U.S. and Bulgaria will enhance their mutual ability to work together, with other NATO nations, and with key partners on regional security (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim) Download full-resolution version
Senior Airman Emily Mitchell and Staff Sgt. Joshua Nelson, both 37th Airlift Squadron loadmasters sit on the ramp of a C-130J Super Hercules during a formation flight during Exercise Thracian Summer 2016 July 17, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Through Exercise Thracian Summer, the U.S. and Bulgaria will enhance their mutual ability to work together, with other NATO nations, and with key partners on regional security (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)
6 photos: United States European Command Image
Photo 6 of 6: Senior Airman Emily Mitchell and Staff Sgt. Joshua Nelson, both 37th Airlift Squadron loadmasters sit on the ramp of a C-130J Super Hercules during a formation flight during Exercise Thracian Summer 2016 July 17, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Through Exercise Thracian Summer, the U.S. and Bulgaria will enhance their mutual ability to work together, with other NATO nations, and with key partners on regional security (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim) Download full-resolution version
Airmen from the 37th Airlift Squadron inspect C-130J Super Hercules before a formation flight during Exercise Thracian Summer 2016 July 17, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. During the two-week forward training deployment, the 37th Airlift Squadron are conducting tactical flight training which include low-level flights, airdrop training with partnered forces and other related training events. The evolutions help preserve joint readiness, build interoperability and strengthen relationships with our NATO allies.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)
Senior Airman Emily Mitchell and Staff Sgt. Joshua Nelson, both 37th Airlift Squadron loadmasters secure cargo into a before flight during Exercise Thracian Summer 2016 July 17, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Through strengthened relationships and consistent training exercises with allies and partners, the U.S. demonstrates its shared commitment to a safe and secure Europe. These off-station training events improve interoperability with international partners to ensure that we train like we fight when and if called upon to do so in the future. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)
Senior Airman Emily Mitchell, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster prepares a C-130J Super Hercules before flight during Exercise Thracian Summer 2016 July 17, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. During the two-week forward training deployment, the 37th Airlift Squadron are conducting tactical flight training which include low-level flights, airdrop training with partnered forces and other related training events. The evolutions help preserve joint readiness, build interoperability and strengthen relationships with our NATO allies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)
Capt. Derek Patrick, 37th Airlift Squadron pilot, flies over Plovdiv, Bulgaria during a formation flight during Exercise Thracian Summer 2016 July 17, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Through Exercise Thracian Summer, the U.S. and Bulgaria will enhance their mutual ability to work together, with other NATO nations, and with key partners on regional security (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)
Senior Airman Emily Mitchell and Staff Sgt. Joshua Nelson, both 37th Airlift Squadron loadmasters sit on the ramp of a C-130J Super Hercules during a formation flight during Exercise Thracian Summer 2016 July 17, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Through Exercise Thracian Summer, the U.S. and Bulgaria will enhance their mutual ability to work together, with other NATO nations, and with key partners on regional security (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)
Senior Airman Emily Mitchell and Staff Sgt. Joshua Nelson, both 37th Airlift Squadron loadmasters sit on the ramp of a C-130J Super Hercules during a formation flight during Exercise Thracian Summer 2016 July 17, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Through Exercise Thracian Summer, the U.S. and Bulgaria will enhance their mutual ability to work together, with other NATO nations, and with key partners on regional security (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

During the two-week forward training deployment (FTD), the 37th Airlift Squadron are conducting tactical flight training which include low-level flights, airdrop training with partnered forces and other related training events. The evolutions help preserve joint readiness, build interoperability and strengthen relationships with our NATO allies.

“It's an incredible display of the work ethic and drive of our Airmen,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Christopher Scott, 37th AS pilot. “It is imperative to be able to integrate with multiple agencies within the [European Command} and operate in a moment's notice with our NATO partners.”

Through strengthened relationships and consistent training exercises with our Allies and partners, the U.S. demonstrates its shared commitment to a safe and secure Europe. These off-station training events improve interoperability with international partners to ensure that we train like we fight when and if called upon to do so in the future.

“This forward training deployment is a tremendous opportunity for our Airmen to hone their operational skills alongside NATO allies in a realistic training environment,” said Lt. Gen. Timothy M. Ray is Commander, 3rd Air Force commander. “We train with our Allies and partners every day because you cannot surge trust. You cannot just show up to the championship game without hours on the practice field. Our allies and partners offer unique capabilities, perspective and access to strategic locations.”

Scott explained that this training not only allows partnered nations to gain trust but also practice scenarios they would not normally face. 
“Not only does this event provide assurance to our allies in the region, but we're gaining excellent training in executing our mission with the Bulgarian armed forces,” Scott explained. “Every day, we're learning from each other in all aspects of combat operations, be it in flight, airborne personnel training or ground support.”

This type of FTD involves many aircrew members, but also many support personnel to keep all of the parts moving. 

“We rely so much on others to help get us out the door and into the air,” said Staff Sgt. Toni Odom, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster and Thracian Summer ramp coordinator. “Before aircrews even step, there have been hours of work in place to make everything run smoothly. From the squadron aviation resource management flight; creating our flight authorizations and dealing with last minute changes, to aircrew flight equipment inspecting our night vision goggles and helmets, and of course maintenance working around the clock to keep the airplanes healthy--it definitely takes a village.”

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