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NATO and allied pilots complete Tactical Leadership Program

By Ryan Maass
NATO and allied pilots complete Tactical Leadership Program
Crew members of the 48th Fight Wing prepare an F-15C Eagle for takeoff at the NATO Tactical Leadership Program in Albacete, Spain. U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Sybil Taunton

ALBACETE, Spain, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Fighter pilots from seven NATO countries completed the NATO tactical Leadership Program designed to enhance combat and coordination skills.

The pilots came from the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Greece, Italy, Poland, and the Czech Republic. The program prepared pilots to become mission commanders and lead coalition airstrike packages, also instructed allied flying and ground personnel in tactical air operations. The program also emphasized cooperation between different air forces.

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"I think it's important for our graduates to be well versed in the capabilities of NATO partners," said Lt. Col. John Stratton, the 493rd Fighter Squadron commander in a statement. "For us to remain 'Forward, Ready, Now,' it requires the entire team to be efficient in deploying, executing the mission and redeploying to any location at any time."

The U.S. Air Force says participating countries worked together at all levels in the program. Senior Airman Dylan Wheeler, a 748th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, commended the performance by the participants and their working relationships with one another.

"It feels like we have similar goals, and everyone works well together," he said.

The completion of the program comes as NATO leaders move to bolster their collective defenses as part of the Enhanced NATO Response Force plan. This includes increasing joint military exercises.

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