Aircrew Training Squadron under new command
July 3, 2014, was a special day for the men and women of the Aircrew Training Squadron (ATS) at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany. It was significant because they attended their Squadron's change-of-command and said farewell to Lt. Col. James Kinnear, CAN AF, when the flag was handed over by Colonel Arturo Di Martino, ITA AF, Operations & Training Wing commander, to Lt. Col. Federico Merola, ITA AF.
Colonel Merola is not new to the E-3A Component; he joined in 2011 and served at Squadron 3, where he participated in Operations Afghan Assist and Operation Unified Protector. However, since January 2013, he was assigned to the ATS where he served as an instructor and evaluator pilot.
"Men and women of the ATS, you can count on me," Colonel Merola, the new ATS commander, said. "I'll bring up your ideas to a higher level; I'll represent your needs. On the other hand, I need to count on you; I need you to keep up that loyalty, and that commitment, in order to face the challenges and to be successful."
Colonel Merola is taking command of the ATS, which provides basic qualification training for 11 different E-3A crew positions in addition to upgrading the qualifications of instructors, aircraft commanders and flight allocators. The ATS has more than 100 permanently assigned personnel and approximately 100 students from the Component's 15 participating nations.