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ACSC travels to Poland for international exercise

  • Published
  • By Billy Blankenship
  • Air University Public Affairs

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala-- As part of an ongoing exchange partnership with the Polish War Studies University in Warsaw, Air University sent six members to participate in an air component planning exercise, AIR SHIELD, May 13-21, 2023.

The four students and two faculty from Air Command and Staff College’s participation was the 14th time members have traveled for the event as part of an annual exchange with the university. 

“In addition to US participation, there was also German and Hungarian participation,” said Kevin Holzimmer, a faculty member who was part of the trip and one of the driving forces 14-years ago to help jumpstart this opportunity. “The underlying objective is to expose U.S. students to planning with allies and all the challenges and opportunities that accompany such work. As one of the students stated, ‘we should be sending more students to this exchange. We often talk about working with allies, but few actually get to work with allies.’”

This international exchange offers ACSC students and faculty an opportunity to practice air power planning in an Allied environment while building contacts across Europe in a scenario curtailed to reflect current global situations. Of the students involved, two of the participants were enrolled in the Joint All-Domain Strategist program, and two others are Air University Fellows and will be assigned to Global College of Professional Military Education and the department of joint warfighting for academic year 2024.

“The experience to Poland was both educational and operationally relevant,” said Maj. Timmy Wang, one of the students from the trip. “The engagements during the exercise with NATO partners provided insights into their way of thinking and demonstrated our shared values. It validated the curriculum at ACSC since we were able to jump right into planning with our NATO partners and immediately speak the same doctrinal planning language and methodology with a mutual understanding. Having worked with allies before, with my flying background, the trip continues to highlight the importance of working with our allies and partners. To be able to come together on both a personal and professional level is a great experience.” 

The team was able to engage in exercise scenarios that included realistic operational problems, featuring an incursion by an eastern neighbor with supporting hybrid attacks. The exercise presented a opportunity for students to engage with their peer groups from Poland, Germany and Hungary and operate within a multi-national effort for a global problem set using Allied joint doctrine.

“It is very beneficial to be part of these types of exercises,” Want said. “There are not a lot of opportunities to participate in multi-national exercises and any opportunity like this is very beneficial to our development. I think it provides an opportunity to share experiences and build trust with our allies. I was able to share a C-130 background with a Polish C-130 pilot, swap stories, and develop a bond throughout the exercise. I know if our paths crossed in the future, we would be able to build upon that bond and trust to execute our mission.”