The 17-member mobile training team (MTT), including members of the Wyoming Air National Guard and the Colorado Air Force Reserves, executed a four-week joint training mission with the Colombian Air Force (FAC in Spanish), designed to promote regional stability by fostering key relationships and enhancing partner nation capabilities.
Organizations like the 571st MSAS have provided critical instruction that have allowed FAC to become more capable and self-sufficient.
Since 2012, air advisors have worked hand-in-hand with FAC to increase their medical and airlift capabilities. This particular mission also included firefighting and combat search and rescue skills.
“This MTT is the epitome of what the MSAS stands for, and what they are capable of,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Noelle Deruyter, 571st MSAS air advisor. “Our air advisors and the Colombian Air Force have worked hard together to build a solid foundation of interoperability between our countries.”
During the four-week mission, more than 204 hours of instruction took place at four geographically separated locations across Colombia, graduating 87 Colombian military personnel from several career specialties.
“With seven courses taking place at four separate locations, this MTT had such a broad scope, with many moving pieces,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Giancarlo Reyes, 571st MSAS air advisor. “It is a testament to how advanced and eager to learn the students here are. Every trip [to Colombia] we find that we learn as much from them as we hope they learn from us.”
U.S. Air Force Maj. Michael Adams and Master Sgt. Jacqueline Carlson, from the 187th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron of the Wyoming Air National Guard, instructed courses on medical logistics and medical planning.
“Medical planning and logistics is a critical step in any deployment,” Maj. Adams said. “This course has helped prepare the students for upcoming deployments to Africa where they will be using what they have learned firsthand. You can see how seriously they are taking this class, knowing that this information could help them save lives.”
Additionally, Colombian students were able to practice their language skills, giving their final presentation in both English and Spanish.
“These students already have a high level of fluency in English and their language skills will be imperative for their upcoming deployments,” Master Sgt. Carlson said. “Their command felt it was an important part of the instruction that they be able to communicate and understand the medical terminology, not only in their native language but in English as well. It just shows you how highly capable our counterparts here are.”
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Richard Pantusa, 302nd Operations Group commander, and U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Thomas Freeman, 731st Airlift Squadron, both from the Colorado Air Force Reserves, led the MTT seminar on modular airborne firefighting system (MAFFS). This critical course helped to bridge the gap between FAC aircrew personnel and the Bogota Fire Department personnel on the ground.
“Pilots and fire department personnel don’t typically train together, so this exposure opened the dialogue towards creating joint doctrine to be used for future engagements,” explained Lt. Col. Pantusa. “Through this training, personnel from both sections were able to better understand the part the other plays during MAFFS operations. This course, in particular, addressed a future capability that is in its infancy, and one that the U.S. Air Force will use to help the Colombian Air Force grow.”
Through the effective work put in by MSAS air advisors, the United States is strengthening relations and cooperation that will meet the challenges of crisis and contingency situations by providing the ability to respond together.
“Missions like this one in Colombia are a small example of the hard work that 571st air advisors are conducting to sustain U.S. and Colombia relations,” Maj. DeRuyter said. “More importantly, it builds confidence and capability for the Colombian Air Force which can now conduct certain operations without any U.S. assistance and gives them the ability to ‘pay it forward’ and instruct other nations in Latin America.”