The Canadian Armed Forces, the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), the Dominican Air Force (FARD), and the 23rd Air Expeditionary Wing (23rd AEW) of U.S. Air Forces Southern/12th Air Force (AFSOUTH), carried out combined exercise Forward Tiger 2023 to increase interoperability in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The February 17-March 4 exercise was carried out in the airspace and bases of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica.
More than 350 U.S. airmen deployed as the 23rd AEW for Forward Tiger, including A-10C Thunderbolt II, C-130J Super Hercules, and C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.
“Working together [with the U.S.] is very important because we have threats that affect us all equally,” FARD Colonel Rubén Mejía del Carmen, A3 Aerial Operations director, told Diálogo on March 5. “With U.S. support in the Dominican Republic in training and advice in different areas, we were able to improve all procedures for humanitarian aid in disasters, narcotrafficking, and terrorism.”
Forward Tiger consisted of training opportunities involving maintenance, personnel recovery, disaster response, and air and maritime operations, allowing participating countries to improve readiness, AFSOUTH said in a statement.
“Our doctrine as an air force is based on that of the United States, and we are also very similar in how we serve others,” Col. del Carmen told Diálogo. “We’ve learned from the United States for a long time and we are going to continue to do so. Their procedures at the operational and standard levels are something we can nurture and increase.”
Following nine months of preparation, the FARD partnered with AFSOUTH on February 19 to commemorate its 75th anniversary with an air show at the San Isidro Air Base in the Dominican Republic. Spectators were able to appreciate aircraft flight demonstrations, parachute jumps, static line jumps, and a display of logistics and operational capabilities, AFSOUTH indicated in a statement.
“The capabilities demonstrated and executed throughout the execution of the air show demonstrated Moody’s [Air Force Base] ability to logistically work with partner nations entities,” U.S. Air Force Major Lawrence Thomas, 23rd AEW director of Operations said. “We were able to gain relationships and achieve additional partner nation support — building relationships extends past the men and women we work with at Moody.”
“We were able to demonstrate ground-based aircraft interdiction capabilities in a simulated hijacking, medical evacuations, and forest firefighting,” FARD Colonel As Henriquez, director of Public Relations, told Diálogo. “We showed helicopter and assault operational capabilities with our Special Forces troops, in addition to paratrooper free jumps and troop jumps.”
“The air show allowed us to integrate Dominican citizens to the work of the FARD and make its operational capabilities known,” said Col. Henriquez. “Today we have a great challenge: to organize another air show in 2024, which President of the Dominican Republic Luis Abinader has already formally requested; we have time to invite and organize with participating air forces.”
“It was very important for the JDF to participate in this air show on the 75th anniversary of the FARD and to have this connection with our Dominican, U.S., and Canadian partners,” JDF Sergeant Darren Beckles, Jamaican Embassy liaison to the U.S., told Diálogo. “It’s crucial to our interoperability within the region.”
As part of Forward Tiger, elements of the U.S. Air Force, Canadian Armed Forces, and the JDF conducted a subject matter expert exchange on disaster relief (SMEE) and training at the Canada-Latin America-Caribbean Operational Support Center in Jamaica, February 25-28.
The objectives of the SMEE included simulated scenarios of unloading and loading cargo from a C-130J Super Hercules and delivering expedited aid to the Caribbean in the event of a natural disaster. The training provided an opportunity for U.S. forces to collaborate with the JDF, as well as an opportunity to improve interoperability with their Canadian counterparts.
The airmen also visited community centers and local foundations such as the ENED Foundation, which supports marginalized and at-risk children, to inspire them to set their sights higher than they think possible, AFSOUTH said via Facebook.
“From a strategic perspective we integrated and trained alongside partner nations, provided U.S. airpower for an international air show, and brought fire forces to the Southern Command area of responsibility,” U.S. Air Force Colonel Sean Baerman, 23rd AEW vice commander, said at the conclusion of Forward Tiger. “Something that is rarely done.”