CAMPO GRANDE, Brazil - One hundred New York National Guard Airmen conducted combat search and rescue exercises with their Brazilian Air Force counterparts Aug. 16-27.
The Airmen, most of whom are assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing, conducted missions simulating the recovery of downed aircrew and refueled search and rescue helicopters in the air. They also completed on-ground security exercises and trained Brazilian parachute rescue personnel.
It was the third year New York Airmen took part in Brazil’s annual search and rescue training, Exercise Tapio, as part of the New York National Guard’s State Partnership Program relationship with Brazil’s military.
“It was a great experience training with the Brazilian Air Force during Tapio,” said Senior Airman Eury Villalona-Taveras, a security forces Airman with the 106th Rescue Wing.
The Airmen conducted various ground security missions with the Brazilians, he said.
“By the end of the exercise, we were able to exchange ideas, experiences and made a lot of long-lasting friendships and relationships,” he said.
The joint training and exchanges further interoperability between the U.S. military and Brazilians, according to Col. Jeff Cannet, the commander of the 106th Operations Group, who led the mission.
“When we come into each other’s areas, we can work together seamlessly and help rescue people faster than we otherwise could have if we did not practice down here together,” Cannet said.
“This has been my third time as a liaison officer for the U.S. delegation on Exercise Tapio,” said 1st Lt. Tales Pimenta, a Brazilian pilot with Brazilian Air Base, Campo Grande.
Pimenta said the relationships forged and the effort expended during Exercise Tapio, the largest annual bilateral exercise in the Western Hemisphere, will help save lives in the future.
“It’s something we are very proud of, and we have a deep connection with our partners here in Brazil who do the same thing,” Pimenta said.
New York has had a State Partnership Program relationship with Brazil since 2019.
The New York Air National Guard deployed two HH-60G Pave Hawk search and rescue helicopters, one HC-130J Combat King II search and rescue aircraft from the 106th Rescue Wing and two C-17 Globemaster III airlifters from the 105th Airlift Wing.
The C-17s and 14 Airmen based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York, transported the helicopters and personnel.
Eighty Airmen from the 106th Rescue Wing, including aircrews, maintenance personnel and security forces, were joined by six Airmen from the 107th Attack Wing, which flies the MQ-9 Reaper from Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
The Airmen from the 107th, including three trained to direct airstrikes on ground targets from the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron, integrated remotely piloted aircraft into the exercise. Another two worked with pararescue Airmen from the 106th, conducting search and rescue missions with the Brazilians.
The Americans helped train 40 Brazilian Para Search and Rescue personnel, known by the acronym PARASAR.
“Working alongside the Brazilian PARASAR and Air Force was a truly enlightening experience,” said Staff Sgt. John Kosequat, a pararescueman.
He said the American pararescuemen shared their knowledge and skills from their combat experience and domestic rescue operations.
This year, the 106th sent security forces personnel to train with their Brazilian Air Force counterparts. Air Force security forces Airmen are responsible for the security of bases and aircraft on the ground at remote locations.
The Americans conducted forward area refueling point exercises with the Brazilians. The points are established to provide fuel and ordinance for aircraft when air-to-air or traditional refueling options are not feasible.
The teams also practiced protecting aircrew and aircraft in hostile environments.
Security personnel also taught U.S. hand-to-hand combatives training and learned Brazilian jiu-jitsu techniques. Kosequat said these skills are vital in denying an enemy access to an aircraft flight deck.
The New Yorkers and Brazilians also hosted Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Hokanson was briefed on the exercise and toured the base and Brazilian and American aircraft.