STEFANOVIKEIO, Greece — In a world of constant uncertainty, one facet of life that most can agree on is teamwork can lead to mission success. Throughout history and with training, military alliances have been a strong factor in determining the path forward and learning valuable lessons over the course of generations.
Training serves as the framework in building long-lasting relationships with our NATO Allies, and DEFENDER 23 is one of many valuable opportunities available to help form a cohesive team across countries.
“In the event that an adversary attacks a NATO country, we have to be able to quickly integrate and work as a team,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Chris Gamboa, an HH-60M Black Hawk helicopter pilot.
DEFENDER 23 encompasses three linked, yet separate exercises: Swift Response, Immediate Response and Saber Guardian. This event provides U.S. Army Soldiers, along with NATO allies, the chance to work together to build readiness and learn new strategies in the event of opposition.
“Our partners know how to use our systems, and we know how to use theirs,” Gamboa said. “The training helps increase the ability for our Soldiers and our Allies to get back into the fight quicker in a real-world scenario.”
Gamboa, along with Soldiers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, are currently participating in Swift Response 23, the first of three DEFENDER 23 exercises.
Swift Response 23 occurs May 5-20, and features the Spanish Airborne Brigade Brigada Paracaidista replicating a division leading three separate joint forcible entry airborne operations in the Baltic Sea and Mediterranean regions.
In addition to the training involved, the 12th CAB serves in a key role to provide medical evacuation services to the troops involved in Swift Response 23, but they do not work alone.
HH-60M Black Hawk helicopter crew chiefs like Spc. Belen Hideroa supports the pilots by conducting required maintenance on the helicopters and striving to ensure the safety of all inside.
“This training is important because it gives us an insight as to what’s really happening in the world, as well as gives us more training, especially in the MEDEVAC area,” said Hideroa
As a medical evacuation unit, this training is vital for maintaining unit readiness, sharpening skills, and building relations with NATO allies to include countries such as Greece, Netherlands, France, and more.
“I enjoy flying the helicopter first and foremost,” Gamboa said. “Flying is my passion and getting to help people at the same time is a bonus.
“Doing whatever I can to make sure I get to the patient and get the patient to the treatment they need quickly is always a blessing.”