HomeNewsArticle Display

ANG highlights interoperability capabilities at every level

Airmen from the Pennsylvania & Michigan Air National Guard secure a KC-135 Stratotanker after completion of its sortie in support of a multilateral exercise June 9, 2015 at Riga International Airport, Latvia. Guardsmen from Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania came together to support Saber Strike 15 by providing aerial-refueling and close air support. Saber Strike 15 is a joint and multinational exercise designed to promote stability in the Baltic area and provide an opportunity for military members to sharpen their skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales)

Airmen from the Pennsylvania & Michigan Air National Guard secure a KC-135 Stratotanker after completion of its sortie in support of a multilateral exercise June 9, 2015 at Riga International Airport, Latvia. Guardsmen from Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania came together to support Saber Strike 15 by providing aerial-refueling and close air support. Saber Strike 15 is a joint and multinational exercise designed to promote stability in the Baltic area and provide an opportunity for military members to sharpen their skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales)

Senior Airman Cody Prelec, Pennsylvania Air National Guard crew chief, changes the oil on a KC-135 Stratotanker engine June 9, 2015 at Riga International Airport, Latvia. Guardsmen from Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania came together to support Saber Strike 15 by providing aerial-refueling and close air support. Saber Strike 15 is a joint and multinational exercise designed to promote stability in the Baltic area and provide an opportunity for military members to sharpen their skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales)

Senior Airman Cody Prelec, Pennsylvania Air National Guard crew chief, changes the oil on a KC-135 Stratotanker engine June 9, 2015 at Riga International Airport, Latvia. Guardsmen from Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania came together to support Saber Strike 15 by providing aerial-refueling and close air support. Saber Strike 15 is a joint and multinational exercise designed to promote stability in the Baltic area and provide an opportunity for military members to sharpen their skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales)

Senior Airman Anthony Palombo, Pennsylvania Air National Guard crew chief, cleans the window used by the boom operator on a KC-135 Stratotanker June 9, 2015 at Riga International Airport, Latvia. Guardsmen from Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania came together to support Saber Strike 15 by providing aerial-refueling and close air support. Saber Strike 15 is a joint and multinational exercise designed to promote stability in the Baltic area and provide an opportunity for military members to sharpen their skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales)

Senior Airman Anthony Palombo, Pennsylvania Air National Guard crew chief, cleans the window used by the boom operator on a KC-135 Stratotanker June 9, 2015 at Riga International Airport, Latvia. Guardsmen from Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania came together to support Saber Strike 15 by providing aerial-refueling and close air support. Saber Strike 15 is a joint and multinational exercise designed to promote stability in the Baltic area and provide an opportunity for military members to sharpen their skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales)

Senior Airman Anthony Palombo, Pennsylvania Air National Guard crew chief, screws a window panneling back on a KC-135 Stratotanker after cleaning it June 9, 2015 at Riga International Airport, Latvia. Guardsmen from Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania came together to support Saber Strike 15 by providing aerial-refueling and close air support. Saber Strike 15 is a joint and multinational exercise designed to promote stability in the Baltic area and provide an opportunity for military members to sharpen their skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales)

Senior Airman Anthony Palombo, Pennsylvania Air National Guard crew chief, screws a window panneling back on a KC-135 Stratotanker after cleaning it June 9, 2015 at Riga International Airport, Latvia. Guardsmen from Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania came together to support Saber Strike 15 by providing aerial-refueling and close air support. Saber Strike 15 is a joint and multinational exercise designed to promote stability in the Baltic area and provide an opportunity for military members to sharpen their skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales)

Michigan Air National Guard security forces member and Latvian Air Forces military police members guard two KC-135 Stratotankers on the Riga International Airport, Latvia, flightline prior to a sortie in support of Saber Strike 15 June 9, 2015. Guardsmen from Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania came together to support Saber Strike 15 by providing aerial-refueling and close air support. Saber Strike 15 is a joint and multinational exercise designed to promote stability in the Baltic area and provide an opportunity for military members to sharpen their skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales)

Michigan Air National Guard security forces member and Latvian Air Forces military police members guard two KC-135 Stratotankers on the Riga International Airport, Latvia, flightline prior to a sortie in support of Saber Strike 15 June 9, 2015. Guardsmen from Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania came together to support Saber Strike 15 by providing aerial-refueling and close air support. Saber Strike 15 is a joint and multinational exercise designed to promote stability in the Baltic area and provide an opportunity for military members to sharpen their skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales)

An Air National Guard KC-135 Stratotanker and A-10 Thunderbolt II prepare to refuel and continue with close air support for multiple nations participating in Saber Strike 15 June 9, 2015 in Latvian Air Space.Guardsmen from Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania came together to support Saber Strike 15 by providing aerial-refueling and close air support. Saber Strike 15 is a joint and multinational exercise designed to promote stability in the Baltic area and provide an opportunity for military members to sharpen their skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales)

An Air National Guard KC-135 Stratotanker and A-10 Thunderbolt II prepare to refuel and continue with close air support for multiple nations participating in Saber Strike 15 June 9, 2015 in Latvian Air Space.Guardsmen from Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania came together to support Saber Strike 15 by providing aerial-refueling and close air support. Saber Strike 15 is a joint and multinational exercise designed to promote stability in the Baltic area and provide an opportunity for military members to sharpen their skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales)

Air National Guardsmen conduct aerial-refueling in order to extend the close air support capabilities provided by the A-10 Thunderbolt II to participants of Saber Strike 15 June 9, 2015 in Latvian Air Space. Guardsmen from Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania came together to support Saber Strike 15 by providing aerial-refueling and close air support. Saber Strike 15 is a joint and multinational exercise designed to promote stability in the Baltic area and provide an opportunity for military members to sharpen their skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales)

Air National Guardsmen conduct aerial-refueling in order to extend the close air support capabilities provided by the A-10 Thunderbolt II to participants of Saber Strike 15 June 9, 2015 in Latvian Air Space. Guardsmen from Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania came together to support Saber Strike 15 by providing aerial-refueling and close air support. Saber Strike 15 is a joint and multinational exercise designed to promote stability in the Baltic area and provide an opportunity for military members to sharpen their skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales)

RIGA, Latvia -- Airmen from three National Guard units took to the skies to support 13 nations in developing and ensuring a stable Baltic region during Saber Strike 15, June 9.

Two KC-135 Stratotankers and their crews from Michigan and Pennsylvania joined A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from Maryland to provide close air support and keep that close air support flying longer.

Even though the exercise involves more than 6,000 military members working on their interoperability, the two guard units are finding ways to be more efficient among themselves in order to get air support to other participants.

"No matter how similar they try to make it, everybody operates differently from the start," said Master Sgt. Gilbert Ruffing, Pennsylvania ANG maintenance superintendant. "What you do is (practice by) working together and finding out each others strengths and weaknesses then you come up with a plan where you all do it the same. This way when you are in a real world situation you get better and better ... and have consistency and can find ways of doing better business."

Ruffing echoes the suberb efforts of air guardsmen who have worked through equipment, aircraft and skill obstacles in a matter of days to become an efficient part of the larger machine.

"I think we have been able to bring everybody together using what they know," said Maj. Damon Antonetti, Pennsylvania ANG KC-135 pilot. "We meshed together well and are getting the job done.  It's been great working with the Michigan ANG, they have been a good host to us. They are the lead unit, and they have good leadership."

Working with 55 plus year old aircraft a few things are bound to break, however, this has not hampered the support provided by this critial air power platform during Saber Strike 15. Their ability to be flexible and work and fix problems together has enabled the ANG to continue providing fuel and air cover, maintaining subsequent missions that rely on the refuelers to complete their critical missions.

"That is our contribution to the war, to the effort and to the mission, is supporting that fighter, that bomber and that cargo aircraft so they can press on and continue to do their business. Knowing that we do that is a great feeling," said Ruffing.

No matter the aircraft, equipment, what part breaks, or the size of the unit, Saber Strike 15 enables interoperability between ally and partner nations, strengthening the bonds at all levels in order to effectively complete the mission.