For the first time, an AC-130J Ghostrider, assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing trained alongside Romanian special operations forces and assets from the 352d Special Operations Wing to conduct joint training in Romania and North Macedonia, May, 11, 2021, as part of Trojan Footprint 21.
“Training our forces to leverage the capabilities of the AC-130J significantly increased the lethality of Romanian special operations forces,” said Romanian Col. Marius Patrichi, Special Operations Air Task Group Deputy. “It also provided an opportunity to train with air assets that can be ready every day, anywhere, in response to today’s dynamic security environment.”
This was the first time an AC-130J Ghostrider and crew were involved in training in Romania and with NATO allies in the region. This opportunity for SOF partners to become proficient in close air support from this gunship provides another tool allies can call upon if needed. Exercises like Trojan Footprint test and demonstrate our ability to rapidly respond as a combined SOF entity. The ability to deliver a multitude of munitions to suit various situations makes the interoperability of this combined training all the more valuable.
“Going out and doing exercises where we employ fire is where we start to build the relationships and trust,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Clint Michaelson, 4th Special Operations Squadron assistant director of operations. “When we have that trust, we know they will call upon us to support them, and they can do so with confidence that we will deliver the best support that they can get from anywhere.”
The 1 SOW and 352 SOW worked with Romanian and Spanish Special Forces to improve their response capabilities, and to become more acquainted with the assets the AC-130J Ghostrider gunship can deliver. Working alongside partner nations is critical to building trust and relationships that go beyond the battlefield.
“One of the main goals for this training during Trojan Footprint is learning how to integrate with [our] European partners, and doing calls for fire with those partners,” said Michaelson.
Trojan Footprint 21 is Special Operations Command Europe’s annual exercise to demonstrate proficiencies, assess readiness and lethality of their respective forces, as well as continued improvements to interoperability with allied and partner nations. This training demonstrated how the dedicated resolve of allies with a common purpose and shared vision, builds proven partnerships that endure time. U.S. and Romanian SOF will continue to train together on tactical air control and air-land integration operations, while strengthening a vital NATO relationship.
“From a partnership perspective, the more time you spend together, the better friends you become,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Paul Neal, Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component Commander, Trojan Footprint South. “I think we’ve grown together professionally and personally to know everybody in the leadership here.”