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Multinational mobility unit welcomes top Air Force mobility Airman

by Maj. Cristin Marposon
U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs

6/2/2009 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- The first-of-its-kind mobility unit comprising airmen from 12 nations recently hosted the commander of Air Mobility Command at Pápa Air Base, Hungary.

The Heavy Airlift Wing, the operational-level unit of the Strategic Airlift Capability consortium of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations, brought Gen. Arthur Lichte up to speed on how the unique wing is taking shape. The unit is preparing for its official activation and the arrival of the first of its three C-17 Globemaster IIIs July 27.

"I've met a new breed of mobility professionals here, pioneers in fact," said General Lichte, after taking time to meet both U.S. Air Forces in Europe Airmen and those from other nations. "Though their competence and professionalism are no different from that of AMC Airmen, these individuals are charting an exciting new flight path in international partnership."

During his recent travels throughout the European and Central Command areas of responsibility, the general had the chance to tour Pápa AB and meet those instrumental in helping to make the HAW a reality, from the Hungarian base commander, Col. Miklós Domonkos, to the most junior airman in the wing itself.

Many will see the fruits of their labor later this summer when multinational HAW aircrews begin flying missions to fulfill participant nations' national, NATO, European Union and United Nations strategic airlift requirements.

"Our men and women, in many different uniforms, are working hard each day to ensure the Heavy Airlift Wing stands up strong, ready to carry out the mission," said Col. John Zazworsky, HAW commander. Though he serves in a multinational capacity as commander, his career in the U.S. Air Force includes many years in AMC.

"Many of our U.S. members have served in AMC and bring invaluable experience and know-how in building the HAW's operations," the colonel said. "We couldn't do this without such an incredible foundation upon which to build."

Furthermore, in 2009, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., AMC instructors will train roughly 25 of the HAW's non-U.S. pilots and loadmasters to fly and load the Globemaster.

A Norwegian and a Swede were the first HAW students to graduate from the loadmaster initial qualification course May 28, while two Norwegian officers will graduate from initial C-17 pilot training June 4. Additionally, flying crew chiefs from Estonia, Norway and Sweden are training at McChord AFB, Wash., and two Swedish security forces personnel have already graduated from AMC Ravens training at Ft. Dix, N.J.

"AMC and the Heavy Airlift Wing share the common value of strategic airlift, of vital importance in our world today," the general said. "I look forward to multinational aircrews here carrying out their first missions. They will certainly be making history."

Through the summer, the HAW will top out at roughly 140 personnel as airmen and their families come from Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, the U.S. and elsewhere in Hungary to form a diverse military community in Pápa, a city of roughly 33,000 citizens.

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