NATO tests judge readiness of 600 Spangdahlem airmen
August 10, 2004
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — NATO evaluators are putting some 600 Spangdahlem Air Base airmen to the test this week during an exercise to show whether the base is ready to fight alongside its allies.
It’s the first time the NATO tactical evaluation has been done at Spangdahlem since 1999 because the 52nd Fighter Wing has been so busy manning operations around the world, said Tech. Sgt. Mike Cass, the wing’s inspections chief of Phase II — or wartime — exercises.
The wing’s real-world experience, however, doesn’t necessarily mean it is ready to fight alongside its NATO allies, he said.
“Most people believe that because we’ve been going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re prepared for this. But we need to understand how we would work with different partners in NATO. A lot of time, that could cause some difficulties,” Cass said.
This week’s exercise focuses on performance as a deployed unit, so the airmen have created their own base — called, fictitiously, Saber Air Base — on a corner of the installation. NATO evaluators are acting as a host nation and are running all the scenarios, Cass said.
The scenarios will test operations, logistics and force protection based on NATO regulations, Cass said. Areas such as equipment use and how troops handle various weapons attacks will be graded, among other things.
Troops have done three wartime exercises to prepare for the NATO evaluation.
“We think we’re ready,” Cass said.