Polish Air Force visits Wisconsin ANG

Members of the Polish Air Force spend time looking at aircraft in the phase hangar at the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wis., May 4, 2015. Two pilots and three maintainers from Poland spent the week learning about the differences between their air force and the Air National Guard as a part of the State Partnership Program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Rhode)

Members of the Polish Air Force spend time looking at aircraft in the phase hangar at the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wis., May 4, 2015. Two pilots and three maintainers from Poland spent the week learning about the differences between their air force and the Air National Guard as a part of the State Partnership Program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Rhode)

Members of the Polish Air Force spend time looking at aircraft in the phase hangar at the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wis., May 4, 2015. Two pilots and three maintainers from Poland spent the week learning about the differences between their air force and the Air National Guard as a part of the State Partnership Program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Rhode)

Members of the Polish Air Force spend time looking at aircraft in the phase hangar at the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wis., May 4, 2015. Two pilots and three maintainers from Poland spent the week learning about the differences between their air force and the Air National Guard as a part of the State Partnership Program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Rhode)

Members of the Polish Air Force receive a history lesson in the operations building at the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wis., May 4, 2015. Two pilots and three maintainers from Poland spent the week learning about the differences between their air force and the Air National Guard as a part of the State Partnership Program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Rhode)

Members of the Polish Air Force receive a history lesson in the operations building at the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wis., May 4, 2015. Two pilots and three maintainers from Poland spent the week learning about the differences between their air force and the Air National Guard as a part of the State Partnership Program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea F. Rhode)

MADISON, Wis. -- Members of the Polish Air Force visited the 115th Fighter Wing as a part of the State Partnership Program May 2-8.

Two pilots and three maintainers spent the week learning about the differences between their air force and the Air National Guard.

"It's all about sharing best practices, lessons learned, and tactics, techniques and procedures that lead to enhanced capacity and interoperability, not only for the partner nation but also the partner state," said Maj. Douglas Coop, Joint Force Headquarters-Illinois SPP director.

Poland is Illinois' state partner, but due to requests from the Polish Air Force senior leadership - they have included Wisconsin in their partnership plans, mainly because of the F-16 Fighting Falcon airframe.

"Illinois partnering with Wisconsin for state partnership activity with Poland began in 2014," Coop said. "They expressed interest in future cooperation with regard to the F-16 airframe and although the Illinois ANG no longer possessed this capability, our neighbor directly to the north did have the F-16 capability."

The F-16 Fighting Falcon capabilities of both parties gave them an opportunity to learn from each other over the one-week time period. The 115 FW provided work center-level maintenance exchange, discussed and demonstrated operations and maintenance business practices, and taught the Polish Air Force members everything from strategic direction to fighter squadron shop-level duties.

"The time here was excellent," said Lt. Col. Pawel Marcinkowski, Polish Air Force 3rd Fighter Squadron commander. "We built lots of relationships and experiences we can take into the Polish Air Force."

According to Marcinkowski, there are a lot of similarities between the air forces.

"Everyone has their own technologies and advancements," he said. "We're here to take it all in and incorporate the things we know will work back home."

That is the intent of the program after-all. Expanding the SPP capability provides numerous opportunities for both parties.

"It's a win-win, if you will," Coop said. "In addition to building partnership capacity in order to meet combatant commander objectives for a particular nation, it also provides a training opportunity for the National Guardsmen who participate in the program's events. Partnering with Poland and conducting these mutually beneficial SPP events enhances the capability, interoperability and readiness of the National Guard and as a result we are better postured to defend our nation, protect our state and help our neighbors."
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