Air National Guard Joins Federal Mission to Enhance Regional Security in Eastern Europe
By Staff Sgt. Troy Anderson, 125th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 30, 2015
Jacksonville Fla.- -- The U.S. Air Force deployed approximately 200 Airmen today from the 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville, Florida, to Eastern Europe.
This deployment of a Theater Security Package (TSP) is part of Operation Atlantic Resolve (OAR), the mission aimed at demonstrating U.S. dedication to the enduring peace and stability in the region. Twelve F-15/C Eagles are scheduled to follow in the coming days.
"The 125th Fighter Wing is creating history by being the first Air National Guard unit to support the Theater Security Package mission in Europe," said Col. Brian Simpler, commander of the 125th Fighter Wing.
OAR consists of all efforts to support NATO partners and allies in Europe. This is direct response to the June 2014 European Reassurance Initiative, which was meant to increase presence, training and exercises of U.S. Armed Forces in the European Theater.
This push of military force into the European Theater demonstrates the U.S. commitment to NATO allies and peace for the region.
"I am proud of the Airmen who are making history today as the first Air National Guard unit to support the Theater Security Package in Europe," said Maj. Gen. Michael Calhoun, The Adjutant General of Florida. "I join Governor Scott as we honor their selfless service to our Nation and the great state of Florida."
In the wake of international discourse due to the actions of Russia after the annexation of Crimea, OAR presents a unique opportunity for the US military, while also relieving tensions with European allies. By training alongside NATO allies, U.S. Forces plan to strengthen relationships, interoperability, and efficiency.
Within the months 159th EFS are abroad, they will participate in Frisian Flag, a multinational exercise in the Netherlands, and then move to Graf Ignatievo in Bulgaria. During this time the 159th EFS will be conducting routine flight training alongside joint partners.
Although the Air National Guard is predominately thought to focus on State based operations, they are often mobilized for contingency and overseas missions and provide almost half of the Air Force's aerial refueling, tactical airlift support, aeromedical evacuations and combat communication functions.
"The Air National Guard is the proven choice," Simpler said. "The critical contributions of the Florida Air National Guard enable the Air Force to maintain our global presence and forward presence in Eastern Europe."