CHANIA, Greece - Soldiers from the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC), U.S. Air Force personnel, and NATO allies concluded their annual NATO Missile Firing Installation (NAMFI) live fire exercise, Nov. 28, 2020. The NAMFI live fire is designed to enhance interoperability among NATO allies and partners to increase readiness through the integration of land component air and missile defense capabilities.
NAMFI is a German led, Greece hosted exercise and is supported by The Netherlands. The NAMFI live fire takes place on the Greek Island of Crete and is conducted by more than 600 personnel from the U.S., Greece, Germany and the Netherlands. This year's live fire marks the return of U.S. personnel to the exercise after a three-year hiatus. Throughout the live fire U.S. Patriot operators fired four missiles from German Patriot missile platforms.
“The NAMFI live fire is a huge training opportunity for all soldiers involved and not only helps build partnership by working towards the same goal but it also provides an opportunity to update our own techniques, tactics and procedure for the better,” said Sgt. Maj. Robert Morgan, 678th Air Defense Artillery Brigade command sergeant major.
Leading up to and during the live fire, U.S. soldiers from the 10th AAMDC integrated into German Air Force patriot missile crews assigned to the German Air Missile Defense(AMD) Wing 1.
“We all have different ways of combating the enemy, by partnering together we can find out where the cracks are and fill in those cracks to maintain combat superiority.” said Sgt.1st Class Thad Beckendorf, a patriot master gunner assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion 5-7 ADA Battalion, who integrated into Charlie Squadron, Wing 1.
“I think this exercise went excellent. We had a lot of things we couldn't control such as the weather, different aspects of missile hazard, and COVID and we pushed through and made it happen,” said Beckendorf. He added that since arriving at NAMFI his favorite experience about integrating into Charlie Squadron has been the amount of comradery. “I’ve never met any of the individuals that I was embedded with or relied on for this exercise, but they treated us like family while we were here,” he said.
Throughout the two week exercise five squadrons, three German and two Greek, were evaluated on all phases of the deployment and use of their systems, by NATO evaluation teams from NATO Air Command Headquarters. The final evaluation being the firing of 26 patriot missiles by Germany, Greece and the U.S. to neutralize targets in the form of drones. ”This is an annual evaluation and validation process for the German Air Force, ”said Sgt. First Class Pablo Rodriguez, a patriot missile operator assigned to the 10th AAMDC tasked with being an evaluator for this year's live fire. “As a NATO tactical evaluator my purpose is to evaluate tactical procedures in all stages including planning, deployment, and execution are all performed to NATO standard.”
“Due to COVID we had to separate the crews and minimize contact, everyone was tested for COVID and everyone wore a facemask the entire time,” Col. Andreas Noeske Commander of the German Air force AMD Wing 1. Despite COVID-19 NAMFI 20 was able to successfully train, evaluate, and validate Patriot missile crews from participating countries, as well as build partnership and interoperability among NATO allies, due to strict adherence to preventive guidelines.