Above the mountainous landscape of Amendola Air Base, Italy, U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle pilots assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron are training side-by-side with NATO allies from, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium in support of Tactical Leadership Programme 18-4.
The month-long program gives participants a chance to see how others get the job done. TLP builds familiarization and strengthens interoperability within NATO through combined training in the classroom and in European airspace.
“Our methods may be different, but the end goal is all the same,” said an Italian Air Force F-35 pilot assigned to the 32nd Stormo. “We share a commitment to maintaining security and enhancing our air readiness within NATO. Training opportunities like TLP, allow us to come together and learn from one another, giving us an edge in the future with a deep partnership to lean on.”
During the course, some pilots noticed more similarities than differences in how each country got things done. TLP is designed to bridge the gaps and help form cohesiveness between allies.
“Building partnerships here will make us more effective in the future,” said a 493rd FS flight commander. “There are a lot of similarities to the way we all operate, and exercises like this help us find those similarities and break down any language or cultural barriers that appear.”
The effectiveness cultivated by the training has molded NATO and allied forces’ flight leaders into the mission commanders of today, creating skilled and competent leaders able to tactically and operationally work within the NATO alliance.
“The program condenses the mission planning process and then adds everything that comes with working with our international partners,” said a 493rd FS flight commander. “We are constantly pulled in different directions and you have to learn how to prioritize and work effectively with the whole team.”
TLP is the focal point for NATO’s Allied Air Forces tactical training. The hundreds of NATO mission commanders developed by the program are able to lead coalition force air strike packages, instruct allied flying and non-flying personnel in matters related to tactical composite air operations, and provide tactical air expertise to NATO agencies.
Senior Airman Malcolm Mayfield, 48th Fighter Wing