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Guyana welcomes Operation Southern Partner

GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- LCpl. Decius Robin, Guyana Defense Force, listens intently to a blast injuries briefing given by members of the Defense Institute for Medical Operations at Brooke City Base, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kevin Walston)

GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- LCpl. Decius Robin, Guyana Defense Force, listens intently to a blast injuries briefing given by members of the Defense Institute for Medical Operations at Brooke City Base, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kevin Walston)

GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Subject matter experts from the U.S. Air Force, Guyana Defence Force, Aeronautical Engineering School, and Ogle Airport exchanged experiences, challenges and solutions Monday as part of Operation Southern Partner. 

The bilateral dialogue here between U.S. Air Force and Guyanese citizens, ranged from storing parts to securing aircraft to evaluating and treating blast injuries during an emergency medical response scenario. 

We are more or less operating on the same principles, just a different scope, said Ramdayal Ramjit, an instructor at the Art Williams and Harry Wendt Aeronautical Engineering School and a licensed aircraft engineer.

The technical school teaches structural and electrical aircraft maintenance to approximately 60 students and is co-located with the Ogle Regional Airport, which houses approximately a dozen small commuter aircraft. After students receive their education, Ramjit said that most will probably work for a contract company serving the airport. 

The airport, he said, is working to broaden the type of aircraft served there. Expansion like this, however, requires capabilities ranging from security to emergency response to maintenance. Subject matter exchanges help expose airport personnel and students to these areas early. 

"When the airport expands, this will help put people in the right mindset," Ramjit. said "We are going to be in a better position from the experiences we gain from these types of exchanges."

Ramjit said there are similarities between the two nations in areas including repair processes, parts storage and structural repairs.

Master Sgt. Rich LaFranchise, Headquarters Air Force Security Forces Center force protection commodities council superintendent, noticed another: integrated defense. 

"There's a myriad of things (someone) can do to stop operations," he said. A gate disruption, communication outage or other significant disruption can impact the mission, so the Air Force relies on Airmen throughout the base to maintain a posture of situational awareness. "In the Air Force, we say 'Every Airman a sensor'--it doesn't have to be a security person." 

That's a principle the security inspector here has incorporated outside the airport fence. 

"Security is everyone's business, so we ensure everyone is security minded," said Lakeram Bridgemohan. In addition to weekly training sessions, airport personnel engage in active dialogue with surrounding community members. 

What really struck me as unique is the way airport security professionals here train local taxi drivers monthly to increase awareness of potential threats to the airport, Sergeant LaFranchise said. It's an idea he said he had never heard of or thought of before....and a new tactic for him to take back to his unit.

Air Force members representing more than a dozen other specialties are conducting similar exchanges through June 13 with host nation counterparts in Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Belize as part of Operation Southern Partner-Caribbean.

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