ENJJPT leadership impresses new NATO partner

80th Flying Training Wing Commander Col. Jeffrey Kendall sits inside a flight simulator during hsi visit to one of the newest NATO partners, Slovakia, as a Slovakian pilot provides instruction on the country's training device. (Courtesy photo)

80th Flying Training Wing Commander Col. Jeffrey Kendall sits inside a flight simulator during hsi visit to one of the newest NATO partners, Slovakia, as a Slovakian pilot provides instruction on the country's training device. (Courtesy photo)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The 80th Flying Training Wing may become a little larger after Col. Jeffery Kendall, the 80th FTW Commander, visited Slovakia in an effort to have them join the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program.

The NATO partner is interested in what ENJJPT does, so Colonel Kendall, Maj. Bruce Dobbins, the special assistant to the 80th Operations Group commander and Mrs. Cindy Slaughter, the program's financial manager at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, went to the former Soviet bloc nation to brief them on the program. The trio was accompanied by ENJJPT Steering Committee Chairman Air Commodore Peter Berlijn.

"They were generous hosts and very interested in being productive NATO members," Colonel Kendall said. "I was very impressed with their long-term vision, which is in line with much of NATO."

Brig. Gen. Juraj Baranek, commander of the Slovakian Air Forces, met with the team in Zvolen, where the Air Force Headquarters is located. There they briefed him on the program's syllabus, financial information and provided an overall wing mission brief.

"It takes them two to three years to produce a pilot due to budget and weather constraints in their country," Colonel Kendall said. "They are very progressive, though, on what they want and learned a lot about the ENJJPT program they didn't know and found it very impressive."

Once the formalities of the briefings were complete, the team had a chance to tour their fighter wing's facilities and examine a MiG 29 aircraft and the flight simulators used to train their pilots. Colonel Kendall even had an opportunity to fly one of the simulators.

The trip ended positively, but without a definite answer from the country on whether or when they would enter the program. The country still has to review budgetary and commitment requirements, Colonel Kendall said.

"It's too soon to know the actual results, but we were well received and they were very interested in the program," said Major Dobbins.

The trip was a big step for the ENJJPT program because it is the first time a non-participating nation has been visited. Most of the time, countries visit Sheppard to see the program.

"This trip creates the potential to visit other possible partners to join now that we have stepped out to show them what the program is all about," Colonel Kendall said. "They will learn that we are more than just flying (airplanes) and that NATO integration is a large part of the program."