Region’s Air Forces Meet in Uruguay to Prepare for SICOFAA Joint Exercise
By Dialogo November 19, 2015Very good
The System of Cooperation among the American Air Forces' (SICOFAA, for its Spanish acronym) 19th Committee recently met in Uruguay to foster bonds and coordinate a joint exercise that will focus on emergency situations when it's held in Mendoza, Argentina, in April 2016.
“Under a long-term strategic plan that was decided on previously, the purpose of this committee is to forge relationships and plan a strategy for what is going to happen during the Virtual Cooperation IV exercise related to humanitarian aid in the event of a natural disaster,” Uruguayan Colonel Sergio Espino, chairperson of SICOFAA's 19th Committee, told Diálogo.
That exercise will be conducted with the Argentine Air Force’s (FAA) “El Plumerillo” Fourth Air Brigade, which is considered the FAA's premier advanced training unit, the website Defensa
“The scenario will be set in Puerto Montt, Chile, with an earthquake, a tsunami, and a volcanic eruption all within this hypothetical, natural disaster scenario," Col. Espino explained. "In Argentina, they will conduct a planning exercise based at an Air Operations Center that will review virtually [the Puerto Montt scenario] using software provided by the FAA.”
Uruguayan officials were proud to host the planning event for Virtual Cooperation IV from November 9-13.
“We feel that we all work well together, and as the country that founded this system in 1985, we have constantly worked and contributed our human and material resources to SICOFAA’s objectives," Col. Espino stated. "We are proud to host our partner nations from the Americas and try to bring to life the idea of being able to maintain this cooperation system and provide our assistance in maintaining it over time."
SICOFAA is an international, volunteer, and apolitical organization consisting of officers in Air Forces throughout the Americas whose goal is to promote working together in emergency situations, which include natural disasters and search and rescue missions. It also supports transport actions on missions requiring coordination among countries and the efficient use of Air Force resources. The organization includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
“The challenge SICOFAA has accepted is to be prepared to take action when the situation calls for it, and to do so effectively and securely,” the Colonel stated.
SICOFAA members, including the United States, have participated in a variety of joint training exercises, with the most recent being Cooperation III, which was developed by the Peruvian Air Force and held in the cities of Lima and Pisco in April 2014. Air Force officers from 13 countries practiced carrying out humanitarian assistance and search and rescue missions in the event of a natural disaster.
A little more than a year before that training operation, in March 2013, 12 countries attended the Cooperation II exercises, which was hosted by the FAA and strived to standardize procedures and how best to reach isolated areas during catastrophes and natural disasters.
In October 2010, the Chilean Air Force (FAC) hosted Cooperation I at the Pudahuel, Santiago, and Tepual Air Bases in Puerto Montt, where 14 countries provided air support during an imaginary natural phenomenon, according to a Peruvian Air Force press release.
The training paid dividends in August, when the FAC deployed helicopters and aircraft to aid flood victims in the northern cities of Tocopilla and Antofagasta, conducting round-the-clock operations, including transporting victims, medical supplies, and food, in addition to performing medical evaluations and airlifting those in isolated areas to safety.