Exercise Cold Response 16 is underway at Bodø Main Air Station, Norway, as Norwegian, U.S. and Belgian air forces continue to showcase NATO’s and the Partners for Peace’s ability to defend against any threat, in any environment-especially a frozen one. “Cold Response is designed to test our Airmen and other countries in cold-weather operations during major combat scenarios,” said Capt. William Flynt, 555th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon instructor pilot and exercise project officer.Operations seemed poised for a rocky start as many of Aviano’s Airmen and equipment weren’t present when the exercise kicked off; however, the Wyverns adapted quickly to the challenge.
“Out of four C-17s, only three of them arrived on time, but we still flew the first eight sorties with 100 percent success and no down time,” said Flynt. “I’m very happy with how the team’s been doing. Our Airmen have been fantastic.”
Participants donned parkas, face shields, hats, gloves and thermal undergarments to stay warm after temperatures dropped below 30 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the first week of the exercise.
“Keeping warm has been a major challenge for our flightline Airmen, but they’re doing an amazing job,” said Capt. Quinn Evans, 555th Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge. “This exercise has developed them to know how to operate in an environment they’re not normally used to, making us more combat capable.”
Pilots found that operating an F-16 in the Norwegian winter was challenging … at first.
“A lot of us are used to flying in the cold or flying when there’s snow on the ground, but not with the particular weather patterns we see here,” said Flynt. “The first part of Aviano’s mission, to ‘Deter aggression,’ is really what we’re working on here. I think being here, in this environment, has shown regional powers that we can operate anywhere.”
Exercise participants were faced with some additional challenges, but none too trying to overcome, especially with the help of NATO allies.
“There are challenges every time you deploy to a foreign country,” said Flynt. “Most are simple things, like setting up telephones. There are also some small language difficulties, but the Norwegians and the Belgians both speak excellent English. The partnership has been excellent. It’s great to know we have proficient tactical partners to the north of Italy.”
Maritime, land and air operations are ongoing as CDR16 continues to allow all forces involved, the unique opportunity to further their mission capabilities and learn from one another.