The United States exchanged know-how with 12 partner air forces in the annual, Colombian-led exercise.
Two U.S. Air Force aircraft and more than 90 U.S. airmen participated in Angel de los Andes, a Colombian-led international search-and-rescue training exercise September 3-14, 2018. The Air Combat Command No. 5 unit at Arturo Lema Posada Air Base in Rionegro is the staging ground for the exercise. This is the second time the Colombian Air Force has conducted Angel de los Andes, the first was in 2015.
“I’m confident that Angel de los Andes, with its mission to save lives, will extend and further our relationship, cooperation, and exchange of best practices which will benefit the U.S. and Colombian air forces,” said Colombian Air Force Chief of Staff General Carlos Eduardo Bueno Vargas. “The significant importance of the U.S. being here is that we have the opportunity to strengthen our relationship so we can be prepared to confront future threats together.”
One C-17 Globemaster III from the 14th Airlift Squadron at Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, and one C-130 Hercules from the 133rd Airlift Squadron with the Minnesota Air National Guard were among the eight U.S. Air Force active, guard and reserve components participating.
“The U.S. has been our ‘big brother’ for many years, and we have a special relationship based on gratitude and respect, and that is why they are our guest of honor to this important exercise,” Gen. Bueno said. “While all of the participating countries are important Colombian allies, the U.S. has a special relationship with Colombia since they have helped us overcome our most difficult moments, not only for the Colombian Air Force, but also for Colombia as a whole against narcoterrorism and drug trafficking threats.”
The first week of the exercise focused on responding to natural disaster scenarios that include earthquake response, forest fire, and open water rescue, as well as responding to an aircraft crash. The second week focused on close air support and combat search-and-rescue techniques.
“In a real world humanitarian assistance/disaster response relief event in the U.S. Southern Command area of operations we would expect to work with these same partner nations that are participating in this exercise,” said U.S. Air Force Major Juan Pazarro, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Colombian desk officer. There were more than 400 participants from 12 nations’ air forces, to include: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Panama, Peru and Uruguay.
“Managing 11 different nations can be challenging, but I think that the Colombians have done a great job at integrating all of these different countries, all of the capabilities that they bring to this exercise,” Maj. Pizarro said. The remaining U.S. units participating were: the 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, California; 48th Rescue Squadron; 306th Rescue Squadron; 612th Air Operations Center; 943rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron; and the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern). All are stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.