SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, IL (KPLR) - Scott Air Force Base played a key role in the largest NATO-U.S. exercise in 20 years. The exercise is “Ultimate Reach.” Lt. General Sam Cox, the commander of the 18th Air Force, said, “It went off without a hitch.”
While St. Louisans slept, Air Force personnel at Scott were inside the 618th Air Operation Center. It is opened 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Each day they have command and control of 500 military flights around the world. This morning they were focusing on Spain. They made sure military aircraft refueled mid-air over the ocean, ready to carry off the special exercise with NATO troops.
Col. Michael Honma said, “Every country has different ways of doing business this is our chance to be able to get together and find out how we all can do it more effectively.”
550 U.S. paratroopers were dropped over Spain. It happened quickly, every two seconds another one leaped from the aircraft. They are vital; they can land in the middle of a hot spot and immediately take control. Major Nate Padgett said, “Securing a runway for us to enable our follow on forces to come in and build up our combat power at a runway.”
36,000 NATO AND U.S. troops joined the exercise in several European countries including Spain. Besides learning how to improve forces, it also gave NATO and the U.S. a chance to send a global message to friends and foes. Lt. General Sam Cox said, “It is an opportunity for us to demonstrate around the world the capability we have and something we can do to make ourselves stronger, demonstrate to the rest of the we’re strong in what we do.”
Air men who work at Scott have a tremendous sense of pride knowing they play are important in keeping our country and the world safe. Sgt. Arielle McManus said, “It makes me feel proud to be hands on just in deep with all the operations.”
Thursday was the third day of the military exercise, it concludes Friday.