Pilots from the 104th Fighter Squadron, Maryland Air National Guard, recently traveled to the Campo Grande Air Force Base in the largest city in the Mato Grosso do Sul state to assist the New York Air National Guard (NYANG) train with their partner, Brazil.
Exercise Tapio is a Brazilian combat search and rescue and close air support exercise that ran through August 31.
U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Griffin and Major Eric Calvey, both A-10C Thunderbolt II pilots assigned to the 104th Fighter Squadron, traveled to Brazil to train with their A-1 and A-29 pilots.
“Our role was to focus on helping their pilots with the tactical aspects of close air support and combat search and rescue,” said Lt. Col. Griffin. “We were not only flying with them in the backseat of their aircraft, but we were briefing and debriefing them. When we had a no-flying day, we were in the classroom teaching academics.”
This year marks the second time the NYANG has participated in the exercise, while just the first for the Maryland fighter pilots.
“We work a lot with the 106th Rescue Wing in Long Island, and the Brazilian Air Force requested A-10 pilots come down and teach them what we know,” said Lt. Col. Griffin. “Because we had that ongoing relationship already built with the New York ANG, we were very excited to help and lend our expertise.”
The State Partnership Program has been successfully building mutually beneficial relationships for nearly 30 years and includes 85 partnerships with 93 nations all around the world. All 54 state and territory National Guards participate in the program.
“This is a perfect example of how versatile the State Partnership Program can be,” said U.S. Army Major Harrison Bittenbender, director of the Maryland National Guard State Partnership Program. “In this situation, the New York National Guard did not have a specific unit or resource, so they sought out our help. It was a great opportunity for us to export our expertise to a new Combatant Command and show, when necessary, that the National Guard will find where a capability exists across the 54 to help our international partners.”
The bilateral exchange of information allowed Lt. Col. Griffin and Maj. Calvey to see what obstacles the Brazilian pilots have to overcome, provide insight, and discuss the differences in aircraft, equipment, and training.
“They have some unique equipment challenges when it comes to combat search and rescue so they have different ways of getting the job done so it is challenging but also a great learning opportunity for us,” said Lt. Col. Griffin. “I think [the Brazilian Air Force] took away a lot of different techniques that we provided so there was definitely great training happening both ways.”
Exercise Tapio, which involved more than 1,000 Brazilian forces and their aircraft as well as 100 U.S. Air Force airmen, one HC-130J Combat King II aircraft, three HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters, and two C-17 Globemaster II aircraft, conducted operations to grow the collective ability to meet complex global challenges, counter threats, and maintain regional security and stability.