Airmen integrate into Chilean CAOC for SALITRE
By Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky
/ Published October 20, 2009
ANTOFAGASTA, Chile -- Air Forces Southern Airmen are integrating themselves into a Chilean Combined Air Operations Center for SALITRE, a Chilean Air Force-led coalition exercise Oct. 17 to Nov. 2 in Antofagasta and Iquique.
The effort can be challenging considering France, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and the United States are learning to work together in a coalition environment while planning a large-scale peacekeeping operation.
Each Air Force has its own process for conducting air operations, learning from one another while at the same time overcoming four different language barriers, said Col. Patricio Topali, CAOC director for SALITRE.
"Our experiences here are very important," he said. "By working together, we increase our knowledge and build relationships with other coalition countries, as well as NATO, especially in relationship to the Combined Air Operations Center.
"Our expectation is to gain more knowledge of the process, not just planning. In this case, when you learn the processes for the French, Argentinean, Brazilian, and U.S. Air Forces, you can achieve the required levels of proficiency for future coalition efforts.
"I think this exercise is very important for Chile. We put our knowledge on the table, and we have our door open for foreign air forces to build very close relationships. We live here in our region, but collective experiences are very important. Our way is very close to yours (US Air Force), but we need to keep the proficiency levels high now and in the future."
The effort is unique for Airmen like Senior Airman Jessica Bartholomew, 612th Air Operations Center, Combat Plans Division ATO production technician. She never envisioned herself in a large multinational exercise when she enlisted three years ago.
"This is the first time I've been a part of a combined exercise at a non-US base," she said.
"It has always been on our systems, and other countries were observers. It is challenging to adjust to the Chilean systems, and it's hard to jump in and find your role in the team. I have to listen very closely to what everyone is saying and then jump on the things that need to be done.
"We're all going to pull together...if a situation were ever to occur for real, we would all have help each other out. We all have to unite and work together."
There are two main components to SALITRE. During the live exercise, aircraft from all participating nations will simulate a wide variety of operations in a realistic peacekeeping, non-combatant evacuation and humanitarian response scenario.
In addition, participants will exercise command and control of a simulated air campaign involving fictional scenarios within the Chilean CAOC. Scenarios within SALITRE will have broad application across many spectrums of conflict or civil support, including support of UN-type responses worldwide. The live exercise begins October 23.