148th Fighter Wing Participates in Frisian Flag 2019

148th Fighter Wing participate in Frisian Flag 2019

Airmen from the 148th Maintenance Group from the Duluth, Minn. based 148th Fighter Wing recovered and performed routine maintenance activities for F-16 Aircraft for the 2019 Frisian Flag held at Leeuwarden Air Base, March 30, 2019. Frisian Flag is a 12-day NATO partnership exercise in the Netherlands that will allow all international participants of the exercise to execute training on operational tactics in a global setting with multiple coalition partners like Germany, Poland, France, and the United States who are participating in this year’s event. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Lynette Hoke / Released)

148th Fighter Wing participates in Frisian Flag 2019

An airman from the 148th Maintenance Group from the Duluth, Minn. based 148th Fighter Wing helps complete the routine maintenance activities for F-16 Aircraft for Frisian Flag 2019 held at Leeuwarden Air Base. Frisian Flag is a 12-day NATO partnership exercise in the Netherlands that will allow all international participants of the exercise to execute training on operational tactics in a global setting with multiple coalition partners like Germany, Poland, France, and the United States who are participating in this year’s event. (Air National Guard video by Tech. Sgt. Lynette Hoke / Released)

148th Fighter Wing participates in Frisian Flag 2019

This year more than 175 Airmen from the Duluth, Minn. based 148th Fighter Wing will be the American asset in the annual exercise held at Leeuwarden Air Base. Frisian Flag is a 12-day NATO partnership exercise in the Netherlands will allow all international participants of the exercise to execute training on operational tactics in an operational setting with multiple coalition partners like Germany, Spain, Poland, France, and the United States. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Lynette Hoke / Released)

148th Fighter Wing participates in Frisian Flag 2019

F-16 Aircraft from the Minnesota Air National Guard 148th Fighter Wing arrives at Leeuwarden Air Base in the Netherlands for the 2019 Frisian Flag, March 29, 2019. Frisian Flag is a 12-day NATO partnership exercise in the Netherlands that will allow all international participants of the exercise to execute training on operational tactics in a global setting with multiple coalition partners like Germany, Poland, France, and the United States who are participating in this year’s event. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Lynette Hoke / Released)

148th Fighter Wing participates in Frisian Flag 2019

Airmen from the 148th Maintenance Group from the Duluth, Minn. based 148th Fighter Wing recovered and performed routine maintenance activities for five F-16 Aircraft for the 2019 Frisian Flag held at Leeuwarden Air Base, March 29, 2019. Frisian Flag is a 12-day NATO partnership exercise in the Netherlands that will allow all international participants of the exercise to execute training on operational tactics in a global setting with multiple coalition partners like Germany, Poland, France, and the United States who are participating in this year’s event. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Lynette Hoke / Released)

LEEUWARDEN AIR BASE, Netherlands --

Nearly 180 Air National Guard Airmen from the Minnesota-based 148th Fighter Wing are participating in a 12-day NATO partnership exercise at Leeuwarden Air Base, Netherlands.

Frisian Flag will allow all international participants of the exercise to execute training on operational tactics with multiple coalition partners like Germany,  Poland, France, and the United States.

“The exercise allows us to train alongside our European allies and fly with several types of fighter aircraft to ensure readiness for a variety of missions,” said Lt. Col. Paul Thornton, 179th Fighter Squadron commander and Mission Commander for the Air National Guard.  

“During Frisian Flag, we are able to practice and be exposed to multi-nation air-to-air, surface-to-air threat scenarios as we would in a wartime scenario; vital training that isn’t easily accessible back home.”

This international partnership helps affirm commitments and support to NATO partnerships, shows the US interest in supporting Europe, as well as giving these guardsmen participating a unique opportunity to ‘train as they fight.’

“It’s important for us to be here and show our commitment to the defense of our allies and I think it is a symbol of reassurance that we will be ready to provide deterrence against any potential adversaries,” said 1st Lt. Chaz Smidt, a 148th Fighter Wing F-16 pilot.  

Military operations are becoming increasingly about international cooperation, which requires extensive education, instruction and training. Training together in international collaboration is necessary to ensure air defense responsibilities and facilitate international missions in the future. 

“This is a great opportunity for the offices outside of maintenance group and the aviators to work together, see how other offices work, to be close to the flight line and get real exposure to the mission that we do,” said Senior Master Sgt. Katrina Patterson, 148th FW Logistics superintendent. “This exercise gives everyone a chance to solidify the whole airman concept.”

After the exercise comes to an end, the Airmen will return home to the United States and back to their role of traditional guardsmen.   

“I am incredibly proud to bring the squadron over here, to represent the United States, the Air Force and show that we stand with our NATO partners against any threat to our shared interests around the world,” said Lt. Col. Thornton.