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Global Eagle combines AF, British forces

by 1st Lt. Carolyn Glover
U.S. Air Forces Europe -- United Kingdom Public Affairs

3/12/2012 - STANFORD TRAINING AREA, England (AFNS) -- The historical partnership between U.S. and British forces was evident yet again through a combined exercise between U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force Regiment Feb. 26 through March 2.

Defenders from the 820th Base Defense Group and tactical air control parties from the 3rd and 18th Air Support Operations Groups travelled from Moody Air Force Base, Ga., to Stanford Training Area, a British Army training ground near Norfolk, England, to share the latest tactics, techniques and procedures of the 15 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment.

These two base defense units have maintained a successful training partnership over the years, taking turns training and deploying with each other in both U.S. and UK locations.

"The 820th and RAF have a good training relationship as we share tactics and doctrine," said Squadron Leader Edward Cripps, 15 Squadron officer commanding. "We have similar missions: deploy to enable airpower to be projected; and defend our airfield."

Approximately 60 U.S. Airmen spent the week learning the regiment way of conducting military operations, including: counter improvised explosive device procedures, medical evacuation techniques, sniper tactics, dismounted operations and military operations on urban terrain.

"Our main goal was to integrate with our allies," explained Lt. Col. Chris DeGuelle, 820 BDG deputy commander. "We plan to take everything we learned and apply it to our training back home."

The training was designed to be as realistic as possible. USAF aircraft were incorporated in order to maximize the training's impact.

An HH-60 Pavehawk from the 56th Rescue Squadron, RAF Lakenheath, landed in the training camp to support medical evacuation training. F-15E Strike Eagles, flown by members of the 48th Fighter Wing, allowed for specialized close-air support training for TACPs and joint terminal attack controllers from both the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing and RAF Regiment.

The week concluded with a 24-hour cumulative force protection operation in Eastmere Village, a full-scale simulated village in the depths of STANTA. This training operation exercised the ability of the Regiment and BDG to work together outside the wire, testing command and control capabilities as troops moved to take over and hold various buildings.

Multiple teams of both Regiment and BDG forces made their way through the village streets, fighting off opposing forces. The day concluded once coalition forces successfully secured 12 buildings.

"The exercise was almost as real as being in battle," said Tech Sgt. Elizah Mitchell, 824th Base Defense Squadron. "This more in depth training forced us to think outside the box."

The success of the operation originated with the all-night 'stalking', conducted by the 820th's Close Precision Engagement Team and Regiment snipers.

The lush environment and rainy weather conditions of England provided a new element to the training atmosphere, according to Senior Airman Zack Best, 824th Base Defense Squadron. The team learned to utilize the foliage and fog to discreetly stake out the village and observe their targets.

Overall, the biggest success of the exercise was the relationships developed throughout the course of the week.

"Working with (the RAF) was a good opportunity. Seeing how they operate will allow us to work better with them in the future," said Senior Airman Steven Trimble, CPET member.

Hours of training together allowed members of both forces to not only develop friendships and a positive working relationship, but a genuine ability to understand each other operationally.

"We understand them, and they understand us," Best explained.

The Royal Air Force Regiment is the ground fighting force of the Royal Air Force. The corps is a diverse organization that provides first-rate worldwide force protection to UK air assets.

The 820th Base Defense Group is an exceptionally trained force protection unit of 12 different Air Force specialties, with airborne and air assault capabilities. At a moment's notice, the group provides the expeditionary Air Force's only worldwide deployable, "first-in", fully integrated, multi-disciplined, highly qualified, self-sustaining force protection capability.

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