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MSAS air advisors next mission: Colombia

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA - -- Aerial port, airfield operations, command and control and load planning. These were several topics on which Airmen from the 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron and Colombian Air Force exchanged ideas during the airbase deployment preparation portion of the Air Mobility Command's Building Partner Capacity mission in Bogota, Colombia, March 7-16.

The two-week BPC mission gave the United States Air Force an opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with the Columbian air force so that they could come together in the future for important operations such as countering transnational organizational crime, humanitarian and disaster relief, supporting peacekeeping operations, training and exercises, multinational engagements and supporting human rights throughout the Western Hemisphere.

The 571st MSAS worked side-by-side with Colombian partners to ensure the success of the largest combat and mobility deployment exercise in the Colombian air force's history. The MSAS partnered with the Colombian air force for the safe planning and loading of equipment and maintenance supplies. The successes of this most recent combined exercise strengthened the U.S. and Colombian partnership and set the stage for the eventual deployment to Nellis AFB, Nevada. During this upcoming deployment, the Colombian Air Force plans to send eight Kfir fighters, two Boeing 727 transport aircraft, and two Boeing 767 tankers to RED FLAG in July. They are using a building block approach to develop their expeditionary capability.

"When I think of the RED FLAG exercise the first word that comes to my mind is 'challenge,'" said Staff Sgt. Angel Ortega, 571st MSAS air advisor. "RED FLAG presents a challenge from a flying perspective and a logistical perspective. You need to get your forces to Nellis Air Force Base safely to show off your aerial expertise."

The team also traveled to three Colombian air bases during the two-week engagement. The MSAS team was able to share safe ramp practices and learn alongside other aerial porters, loadmasters, aircrew and logisticians.

"Along the way I learned that when our Latin American partner nation's capability is enhanced, our nation's security is too," said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Trissel, 571st MSAS air advisor. "I came away with a spirit of admiration and respect for our Colombian allies."

Another topic discussed was the importance of correctly determining aircraft center of gravity. This will enhance the operational safety of the Colombian air force's different airframes while maximizing the allowable cabin load of each aircraft. Load planning was just one of the missions the 571st MSAS focused on to help further Colombia's air mobility system.

Just as important as the load planning mission was the mutually beneficial interaction focused on safely restraining pallets and rolling stock. The team exchanged methods for restraining loads using nets, straps and chains. By working together innovative approaches were developed for common problems.

"It is my hope that this mission served as the starting point to an ongoing partnership," said Maj. Gary Symon, 571 MSAS air advisor and Colombia mission commander. "In order for our countries' militaries to cooperate on mutual security concerns, engagements like these are necessary to establish the necessary trust and understanding."

This BPC mission will make the U.S. Air Force more efficient and will also benefit the Colombian air force. Through MSAS, the U.S. is able to build stronger international air force cooperation, interoperability and mutual support. When a crisis or contingency operation occurs in the future, the U.S. and Colombia will be better prepared to respond together. This mission will help serve as a springboard to finding collaborative solutions to regional challenges.

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