93rd EARS supports Bright Star 21, fuels regional partner capacity

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Dhruv Gopinath
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Airmen and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft assigned to the 93rd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron deployed out of Fairchild Air Base, Washington, provided aerial refueling capabilities as part of exercise Bright Star 21 Sept. 5-16, 2021.

“Our contribution this year was to have our boom operators help qualify Egyptian pilots in aerial refueling,” said Capt. Ryan Turner, instructor pilot and flight safety officer assigned to the 93rd EARS. “We also demonstrated that we could keep our aircraft away from threats and still project airpower to a given area.”

During the exercise, Airmen of the 93rd EARS helped to qualify 12 Egyptian F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots on aerial refueling maneuvers in addition to providing logistical support to F-15E Strike Eagles assigned to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing that participated in the exercise.

“It’s always good to be able to practice on different airframes,” said Maj. Frank Simon, 93rd EARS operations officer. “It was a unique training opportunity for us, after being combat focused for the past few months. This is new for our unit and was good for our young Airmen who haven’t experienced something like this before.”

The 93rd EARS is currently operating out of Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, home of the 39th Air Base Wing. According to Col. Jason Gingrich, 39th ABW commander, Incirlik’s unique position makes it an invaluable asset to meeting mission requirements in multiple geographic regions.

“Thanks to our strategic location, we serve as a power projection platform, supporting operations in both the U.S. European Command and U.S. Central Command areas of responsibility,” said Gingrich. “The 39th Air Base Wing is proud to work alongside our interagency, allied and coalition partners to further enhance regional security and deter potential aggressors.”

Bright Star 21 is a multilateral Egyptian and CENTCOM training event that provides the opportunity to test a collective ability to work with partners to address realistic scenarios across air, land, and sea domains, and within combined battle staffs. The exercise consisted of a command post exercise, field training exercise and senior leader seminar.

“Since the first Bright Star was held in 1980, the exercise has carried a proud and historic tradition of partners working together toward common objectives,” said U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of CENTCOM. “The concepts tested in exercises like this one have led to successes against terrorism and violent extremism across the region.”

Bright Star builds on the strategic relationships between the U.S., Arab Republic of Egypt and other partner nations to improve how participating countries address common threats to regional security at all levels of command and across all warfare domains.

“This exercise is an important professional development tool to test and validate concepts, procedures, and tactics,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Steven J. deMilliano, Director of Exercises and Training Directorate, CENTCOM. “More broadly, they enable militaries to grow capabilities, and prepare to quickly respond to demanding crisis situations,”

Bright Star typically occurs every two years but was postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s exercise is the result of extensive virtual cooperation and planning and highlights participating nations’ extraordinary ability to operate in the challenging pandemic environment.