BOGOTA, Colombia , March 28, 2017 —
The 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron alongside Airmen from five other squadrons spent three weeks Building Partner Capacity with the Colombian Air Force in air operation, aeromedical evacuation, propeller balance, zodiac rigging and medical intelligence courses.
The 571st MSAS, located at Travis Air Force Base, California, supports the mission of Air Forces Southern requirements in the U.S Southern Command area of responsibility with continued engagements throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The BPC mission is designed to promote regional stability by fostering key relationships and enhance partner nation capabilities through interaction and training.
“This mobile training team epitomizes what the MSAS does and is capable of doing,” said Lt. Col. Angel Santiago, 571st MSAS MTT mission commander. “The 571st has been working alongside the Colombian Air Force since our squadron’s inception in 2012. By employing a ‘craw-walk-run’ philosophy to our method of instruction, we’ve improved both their capability and interoperability with U.S. Airmen. The Colombian Air Force is the most capable near-peer in the area of responsibility and air advisors should be proud of what we’ve achieved together thus far.”
One of the major events included a joint exercise led by air advisors of the 571st MSAS. The joint exercise included personnel from the Colombian Air Force, the Colombian Army, a Wyoming Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft and a Colombian Army UH-60 Helicopter.
Air advisors and the Wyoming Air National Guard aircrew instructed the Colombian military on safety and operational procedures of an aeromedical evacuation engines-running onload scenario. In the joint event, a Colombian UH-60 arrived on the flightline with mock casualties on board. These casualties were then transported from the helicopter to the USAF C-130 for immediate evacuation.
“We learned a new way of doing things,” said Technician 3rd Class Lady Brisset Mendieta Pulido, a medical technician in the Colombian Air Force. “With this training, all of the motions are coordinated; everyone has a job and understands the part they play. When we all move together it’s just like a dance, very smooth.”
This exercise involved the coordination of the Colombian Army rotary wing personnel, a joint Colombian Air Force and Army air search and rescue team, Colombian Air Force aeromedical evacuation team and the USAF air advisor team.
This type of exercise helps the nation prepare for disaster relief and contingency operations they may encounter in the future, and the knowledge and experience can be passed on to other nations in the region.
“The Colombian Air Force and Army don’t typically train together, so this exposure opened the dialogue towards creating joint doctrine to be used for future engagements,” explained Master Sgt. James Bowling, 571st MSAS senior air advisor.
Along with ERO operations, the Colombian Air Force also received a course on air operations. During this course, Colombian tactical aircrew had an opportunity to observe static line personnel drops, high altitude low opening drops, and the rigging/loading portion of the container delivery system operations aboard a USAF C-130.
“[The students] only need this training because they don’t do airdrop very often,” said Maj. Jonathan Holland, 187th Airlift Squadron, Wyoming Air National Guard. “They are very skilled aviators who are not too familiar with the procedures specific to a C-130. The opportunity for Colombian Air Force aircrew members to get the hands-on experience and see these specific mission sets with increased frequency helps with the future of their military and what they can do for the stability in the region.”
Through the work of the MSAS, the U.S. is building relationships and establishing interoperability with international counterparts. This cooperation and support will assist the U.S. and partner nations in crisis and contingency situations by providing the ability to respond together.