HomeNewsArticle Display

Sabre Strike 2013 Air Component demonstrates multinational partnership in the Baltics and strengthens state partnership between Maryland and Estonia.

An A-10C Thunderbolt II assigned to the 104th Fighter Squadron flies near a KC-135 Stratotanker at the start of Saber Strike after departing from Amari Air Base, Estonia on June 3, 2013. The KC-1345 provided aerial refueling to A-10C s assigned to the 104th Fighter Squadron during the exercise with the Estonian Air Force and Maryland Air National Guard. Saber Strike 2013 is a multinational exercise involving approximately 2,000 personnel from 14 countries and is designed to improve NATO interoperability and strengthen the relationships between military forces of the U.S., Estonia and other participating nations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hughes)

An A-10C Thunderbolt II assigned to the 104th Fighter Squadron flies near a KC-135 Stratotanker at the start of Saber Strike after departing from Amari Air Base, Estonia on June 3, 2013. The KC-1345 provided aerial refueling to A-10C s assigned to the 104th Fighter Squadron during the exercise with the Estonian Air Force and Maryland Air National Guard. Saber Strike 2013 is a multinational exercise involving approximately 2,000 personnel from 14 countries and is designed to improve NATO interoperability and strengthen the relationships between military forces of the U.S., Estonia and other participating nations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hughes)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Bryan Sieling, a crew chief assigned to 175th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Maryland Air National Guard, prepares to launch an A-10C Thunderbolt II for a training mission at the start of Saber Strike at Amari Air Base, Estonia on June 3, 2013. Saber Strike 2013 is a multinational exercise involving approximately 2,000 personnel from 14 countries and is designed to improve NATO interoperability and strengthen the relationships between military forces of the U.S., Estonia and other participating nations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hughes)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Bryan Sieling, a crew chief assigned to 175th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Maryland Air National Guard, prepares to launch an A-10C Thunderbolt II for a training mission at the start of Saber Strike at Amari Air Base, Estonia on June 3, 2013. Saber Strike 2013 is a multinational exercise involving approximately 2,000 personnel from 14 countries and is designed to improve NATO interoperability and strengthen the relationships between military forces of the U.S., Estonia and other participating nations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hughes)

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James Adkins, The Adjutant General, Maryland National Guard, presents a memento to the Estonian Defense League at Alu Manor in Raplamaa, Estonia is the site for the 20th anniversary celebration state partnership program between the Estonian Military and the Maryland National Guard on June 4, 2013.  Gen. Adkins traveled to Estonia to celebrate this accomplishment during Sabre Strike 2013.  Saber Strike 2013 is a U.S. Army Europe-led, multinational, tactical field training and command post exercise occurring in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia June 3-14 that involves more than 2,000 personnel from 14 different countries. The exercise trains participants on command and control as well as interoperability with regional partners and is designed to improve  joint, multinational capability in a variety of missions and to prepare participants to support multinational contingency operations worldwide. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hughes)

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James Adkins, The Adjutant General, Maryland National Guard, presents a memento to the Estonian Defense League at Alu Manor in Raplamaa, Estonia is the site for the 20th anniversary celebration state partnership program between the Estonian Military and the Maryland National Guard on June 4, 2013. Gen. Adkins traveled to Estonia to celebrate this accomplishment during Sabre Strike 2013. Saber Strike 2013 is a U.S. Army Europe-led, multinational, tactical field training and command post exercise occurring in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia June 3-14 that involves more than 2,000 personnel from 14 different countries. The exercise trains participants on command and control as well as interoperability with regional partners and is designed to improve joint, multinational capability in a variety of missions and to prepare participants to support multinational contingency operations worldwide. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hughes)

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James Adkins, The Adjutant General, Maryland NationalGuard and Estonian Brig. Gen. Meelis Kiili, Commander of the Estonia Defense League prepare to cut an anniversary cake at Alu Manor in Raplamaa, Estonia is the site for the 20th anniversary celebration state partnership program between the Estonian Military and the Maryland National Guard on June 4, 2013.  Maj. Gen. Adkins traveled to Estonia to celebrate this accomplishment during Sabre Strike 2013.  Saber Strike 2013 is a U.S. Army Europe-led, multinational, tactical field training and command post exercise occurring in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia June 3-14 that involves more than 2,000 personnel from 14 different countries. The exercise trains participants on command and control as well as interoperability with regional partners and is designed to improve  joint, multinational capability in a variety of missions and to prepare participants to support multinational contingency operations worldwide. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hughes)

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James Adkins, The Adjutant General, Maryland NationalGuard and Estonian Brig. Gen. Meelis Kiili, Commander of the Estonia Defense League prepare to cut an anniversary cake at Alu Manor in Raplamaa, Estonia is the site for the 20th anniversary celebration state partnership program between the Estonian Military and the Maryland National Guard on June 4, 2013. Maj. Gen. Adkins traveled to Estonia to celebrate this accomplishment during Sabre Strike 2013. Saber Strike 2013 is a U.S. Army Europe-led, multinational, tactical field training and command post exercise occurring in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia June 3-14 that involves more than 2,000 personnel from 14 different countries. The exercise trains participants on command and control as well as interoperability with regional partners and is designed to improve joint, multinational capability in a variety of missions and to prepare participants to support multinational contingency operations worldwide. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hughes)

An Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter jet from the 175th Wing, Baltimore, pulls up under the boom, or fuel nozzle, of a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 459th Air Refueling Wing, Joint Base Andrews, Md., during a mission which refueled the A-10s from European countries back to the U.S., June 9, 2013. The crews also partnered with a tanker team from the 22 ARW, McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. All units involved belong to a Total Force Integration. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Lt. Col. Paul Zurkowski)

An Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter jet from the 175th Wing, Baltimore, pulls up under the boom, or fuel nozzle, of a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 459th Air Refueling Wing, Joint Base Andrews, Md., during a mission which refueled the A-10s from European countries back to the U.S., June 9, 2013. The crews also partnered with a tanker team from the 22 ARW, McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. All units involved belong to a Total Force Integration. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Lt. Col. Paul Zurkowski)

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James Adkins, the Adjutant General for the Maryland National Guard, thanks U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott Kelly, Commander 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard  for a success of Saber Strike on June 5, 2013 at Amari Air Base, Estonia. Saber Strike 2013 is a multinational exercise involving approximately 2,000 personnel from 14 countries and is designed to improve NATO interoperability and strengthen the relationships between military forces of the U.S., Estonia and other participating nations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hughes)

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James Adkins, the Adjutant General for the Maryland National Guard, thanks U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott Kelly, Commander 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard for a success of Saber Strike on June 5, 2013 at Amari Air Base, Estonia. Saber Strike 2013 is a multinational exercise involving approximately 2,000 personnel from 14 countries and is designed to improve NATO interoperability and strengthen the relationships between military forces of the U.S., Estonia and other participating nations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hughes)

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James Adkins, the Adjutant General for the Maryland National Guard, speaks with Estonian Minister of Education, Jaak Aaviksoo and Brig. Gen. Meelis Kiili, Commander of the Estonia Defense League, June 5, 2013, while on a tour of Amari Air Base, Estonia during Saber Strike. Gen. Adkins traveled to Estonia to celebrate 20th anniversary of the state partnership program between the Estonian Military and the Maryland National Guard.  Saber Strike 2013 is a U.S. Army Europe-led, multinational, tactical field training and command post exercise occurring in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia June 3-14 that involves more than 2,000 personnel from 14 different countries. The exercise trains participants on command and control as well as interoperability with regional partners and is designed to improve  joint, multinational capability in a variety of missions and to prepare participants to support multinational contingency operations worldwide. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. James Doyle)

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James Adkins, the Adjutant General for the Maryland National Guard, speaks with Estonian Minister of Education, Jaak Aaviksoo and Brig. Gen. Meelis Kiili, Commander of the Estonia Defense League, June 5, 2013, while on a tour of Amari Air Base, Estonia during Saber Strike. Gen. Adkins traveled to Estonia to celebrate 20th anniversary of the state partnership program between the Estonian Military and the Maryland National Guard. Saber Strike 2013 is a U.S. Army Europe-led, multinational, tactical field training and command post exercise occurring in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia June 3-14 that involves more than 2,000 personnel from 14 different countries. The exercise trains participants on command and control as well as interoperability with regional partners and is designed to improve joint, multinational capability in a variety of missions and to prepare participants to support multinational contingency operations worldwide. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. James Doyle)

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott Kelly, Commander 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard, speaks with Lt. Col. Rauno Sirk, Estonian Air Base Commander, at Amari Air Base, Estonia during Saber Strike, June 5, 2013. Saber Strike 2013 is a multinational exercise involving approximately 2,000 personnel from 14 countries and is designed to improve NATO interoperability and strengthen the relationships between military forces of the U.S., Estonia and other participating nations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. James Doyle)

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott Kelly, Commander 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard, speaks with Lt. Col. Rauno Sirk, Estonian Air Base Commander, at Amari Air Base, Estonia during Saber Strike, June 5, 2013. Saber Strike 2013 is a multinational exercise involving approximately 2,000 personnel from 14 countries and is designed to improve NATO interoperability and strengthen the relationships between military forces of the U.S., Estonia and other participating nations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. James Doyle)

U.S. Ambassador to Estonia Jeffrey Levine asks U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Chris Kelly, a crew chief for the 175th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, about the A-10C Thunderbolt II assigned to the 104th Fighter Squadron, Maryland Air National Guard, on his visit to Amari Air Base, Estonia on June 7, 2013, during Saber Strike. Saber Strike 2013 is a multinational exercise involving approximately 2,000 personnel from 14 countries and is designed to improve NATO interoperability and strengthen the relationships between military forces of the U.S., Estonia and other participating nations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hughes)

U.S. Ambassador to Estonia Jeffrey Levine asks U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Chris Kelly, a crew chief for the 175th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, about the A-10C Thunderbolt II assigned to the 104th Fighter Squadron, Maryland Air National Guard, on his visit to Amari Air Base, Estonia on June 7, 2013, during Saber Strike. Saber Strike 2013 is a multinational exercise involving approximately 2,000 personnel from 14 countries and is designed to improve NATO interoperability and strengthen the relationships between military forces of the U.S., Estonia and other participating nations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hughes)

An Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter jet from the 175th Wing, Baltimore., pulls up under the boom, or fuel nozzle, of a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 459th Air Refueling Wing, Joint Base Andrews, Md., during a mission which refueled the A-10s from European countries back to the U.S., June 9, 2013. The crews also partnered with a tanker team from the 22 ARW, McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. All units involved belong to a Total Force Integration. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Katie Spencer)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 10 of 10

An Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter jet from the 175th Wing, Baltimore., pulls up under the boom, or fuel nozzle, of a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 459th Air Refueling Wing, Joint Base Andrews, Md., during a mission which refueled the A-10s from European countries back to the U.S., June 9, 2013. The crews also partnered with a tanker team from the 22 ARW, McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. All units involved belong to a Total Force Integration. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Katie Spencer)

Amari Air Base, Estonia -- The Air Component of Sabre Strike 2013 concluded June 10 as four A-10C, a KC-135 Aircraft and over 100 Maryland and Pennsylvania Air National Guard members departed Amari Air Base, Estonia. The departure signaled the end of two weeks of multinational exercises in the Baltics and a celebration of 20 years of the Maryland National Guard and Estonian Defense Forces State Partnership Program.

"The exercise was an overwhelming success," said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott L. Kelly, Commander, 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard. "We had the opportunity to solidify our already strong relationship with the Estonia Army and Air Forces while providing comprehensive training with close air support."

Amari Air Base hosted the 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard including four A-10C Aircraft and over 80 personnel and the 171st Air Refueling Wing, Pennsylvania Air National Guard including a KC-135 Aircraft and over 20 personnel. Both units led the Air Component of Sabre Strike 2013 which was hosted this year by Lithuania and now in its third year of execution, Sabre Strike involved approximately 2,000 military personnel from 14 nations including, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Poland, Romania, NATO's Multinational Corps Northeast, U.S. Army Europe, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Joint Multinational Training Command, Joint Multinational Simulation Center, Joint Multinational Readiness Center, 5th Signal Command, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, the United States Army and Air National Guard, and U.S. Army Cadet Command. Norway and Sweden sent observers.

Maryland Air Guard A-10C aircraft along with French Mirage and Estonian L-39 fighters provided close-air support to those troops on the ground while flying out of Amari, whereas the KC-135 tanker from the Pennsylvania Air National Guard provided aerial refueling support.

This year's exercise also marked twenty years of partnership between Maryland and Estonia, as well as Pennsylvania and Lithuania, as participants in the National Guard's State Partnership Program.

"I was a young Lt. Col. when we started the program," said Maryland Adjutant General Maj. Gen. James Adkins. "I've seen a tremendous journey from former republic of the Soviet union to NATO member."

Those relationships have yielded results, as Estonian pilots have deployed alongside Maryland Air National Guardsmen in Afghanistan. That can't be accomplished without those enduring relationships, according to Adkins.

Similarly, Pennsylvania Army National Guardsmen have deployed alongside Lithuanian soldiers on four rotations to Afghanistan.

"It's a great occasion," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Zurkowski of the 104th Fighter Squadron, Maryland Air National Guard. "teaching and learning from our Estonian counterparts on what their capabilities are, learning what their air and ground personnel do and how they prepare to engage in conflict establishes a baseline of our joint capabilities and gives all of us an appreciation for the work we do, jointly."

"The support and collaboration of the Estonian Defense Forces, particularly the Estonian Air Force is outstanding," said Kelly. "I am proud to call their personnel not only a strong partner but also lifelong friends. I look forward to continued joint exercises and a sustained and actively engaged commitment with both of our organizations.