Social bonding benefits AT17 success

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Areca T. Bell
  • 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

For the past three weeks, U.S. Air Force Airmen across Joint Base Langley-Eustis had the opportunity to interact with service members from both the French and Royal air force during Atlantic Trident 17.

While the exercise was intended to share and develop training, tactics and procedures to enable interoperability, the Airmen from the U.S. Air Force, FAF and RAF found themselves gathering together off the flightline, to interact and learn more about each other.

“Getting to know another person’s culture and how they train to fight grows comradery,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Michael, 1st Fighter Wing pilot. “We all share a common job and with that, similar cultures; hanging out together allows us to see how another squadron, jet or country does things differently."

Over the course of the exercise, several social events were hosted by the U.S. Air Force, FAF and RAF. A few of the service members also visited Yorktown Battlefield, Virginia, to learn about the Siege of Yorktown, a historical event in the trio of nations’ past. Additionally, the Airmen from each nation were given the opportunity to put their athleticism on display during a soccer tournament.


French air force and Royal air force Airmen participate in the Atlantic Trident 17 soccer tournament, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., April 22, 2017.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Areca T. Bell)

“The goal of this exercise is to build trust, understanding and to integrate our platforms. I think (socializing off-duty) is absolutely vital,” said Royal air force Wing Commander Chris Hoyle, 1 (Fighter) Squadron commander. “When we’re speaking about the bonds between our nations, that’s professionally, but I think you get another level of trust when you socialize with each other and understand each other’s cultures. I think what they’ve done on this exercise is really commendable—by having socials early on rather than (having to go home just as you start understanding) each other—were doing it right from day one and I think that’s a really valuable experience.”

According to French air force Lt. Col. Yann Malard, French detachment commander, the outside interaction helped the Airmen to feel right at home. During the process of getting to know their counterparts, all the Airmen of Atlantic Trident 17 were afforded the opportunity to improve their team work on the flightline.


French air force and U.S. Air Force Airmen participate in the Atlantic Trident 17 soccer tournament, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., April 22, 2017.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Areca T. Bell)

“This exercise is about flying, but obviously, all the team work is not about (the air) crews, you’ve got all the technicians walking around, working with (each other to) share, communicate and improve their knowledge,” said Malard. “I think if you don’t know each other, you’re not good at teamwork. The objective for us socially is to know each other, that way if you’ve got a question (or a small issue) you’re not suffering all by yourself. If you need something and you know each other, then you can say, ‘I need your help’—obviously that’s a help on the flightline itself.”

With the many social gatherings and opportunities to explore the cultures of their fellow Airmen, Hoyle explained that in the end, these events help the Airmen prepare for the fight ahead of time.

"Like I say, ‘we need to be able work together on day one of a conflict,’” said Hoyle. “If the question was ever asked of our forces, we can’t afford to work up to things, we need to be able to perform on day one and this exercise is about that integration. It’s about learning how we’re going to work together, not in a fashioned means for us to ‘pass,’ but we need to excel and that’s what ( Atlantic Trident 17) is all about.”


Members of the U.S. Air Force and both the French and Royal air force tour Yorktown Battlefield, Va., April 22, 2017.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Areca T. Bell)