Romania hosts US Joint Forces for NATO Dynamic Force Employment training near Black Sea

In the early morning hours on 10 Apr, 2021, special operations forces at Ramstein, Germany, assigned to the 352d Special Operations Wing, loaded the 41st Field Artillery Brigade’s M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) in preparation for a cross-theater Rapid Aerial Insertion operation to Romania. This is just one of a series of related missions demonstrating the U.S. European Command’s ability to quickly employ long-range precision fires in a time and place of their choosing to support NATO allies and partners.
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U.S. Special Operations forces from the 352d Special Operations Wing and 41st Field Artillery Brigade executed another successful High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), Rapid Aerial Insertion (HIRAIN), coordinated with NATO allies, near Constanta, Romania, on 10 April. (Picture source: U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Roidan Carlson)

This type of complex mission is designed to increase the lethality and readiness for not only the Joint Force, but also strengthens and solidifies the NATO-allied coordination while maintaining the US commitment to collective defense. This operation set the conditions for future engagements, both within the rapid aerial insertion (HIRAIN) mission-set and other joint training opportunities in Romania.

The work for this mission started long before the ground crews began loading the HIMARS in Germany. At RAF Mildenhall, in the United Kingdom, USAF personnel prepped and fueled SOF aircraft for the combined NATO mission. Once ready, the air commandos were airborne and outbound to Germany.

Once the Special Operations Wing aircraft landed in Germany and joined up with the 41st FAB, stationed at Grafenwoehr, Germany, this joint package, including the MC-130J Commando II, the U.S. Army Europe’s HIMARS, soldiers and aircrew prepared to execute the HIRAIN from Germany to its final destination in Romania. These tactical professionals had practiced on-and-off loading training to expedite the real-time load of the asset to the capable aircraft, increasing the efficiency of employing these long-range systems.

"This is the second time in less than six months the 41st Field Artillery Brigade has been able to practice our HIMARS rapid infiltration mission along the Black Sea along with our joint partners in Special Operation Command Europe," said Col. Daniel Miller, the commander of the 41st Field Artillery Brigade. "Each time we get better, faster and more precise at being able to conduct these type of short notice deployments or missions."

Once loaded, USAF Special Operations aircrew ran final pre-flight checklists for the operation, showcasing one aspect of the increased interoperability between the components. These highly skilled aviators fully understand SOF who are not the only solution to a crisis or contingency, they work as a part of a larger operational and strategic framework.

During the flight to the Romanian coast, the MC-130J aircrew conducts in-flight training as it transits NATO airspace. As they make their final approach, the ground crew at MK International Airport prepare to rapidly off-load the high-tech HIMARS weapon systems and execute simulated fires within minutes of landing.

“The U.S. and Romania have an incredibly strong bi-lateral relationship, which provides the flexibility to stage forces and equipment in support of operations,” said Colonel Marc V. LaRoche. “USEUCOM’s ability to integrate components and rapidly surge long-range precision fire capabilities into and across the theater, using dynamic force employment, is critical to project forces at a moment’s notice to support our allies and partners, both within the Black Sea region and beyond.”

Upon completion of fires, the SOF team reloads the MC-130J with the HIMARS, soldiers and equipment -- all in less than an hour.

The successful completion of this HIRAIN operation finishes with a safe off-load of the HIMARS back in Germany, and a return to home-station of the SOF aircrew and aircraft to RAF Mildenhall, with plans to execute further iterations solidifying this enhanced deterrent option to ensure peace within the European theater.