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AFSOUTH completes “overwhelmingly successful” Operation Southern Partner; Planning already underway for next OSP event

Operation Southern Partner

Operation Southern Partner

Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. -- The first-ever 'Operation Southern Partner' ended Friday as a C-17 Globemaster III filled with Airmen from across the Air Force touched down at Davis Monthan at approximately 10 p.m. For the last two weeks, more than 70 Airmen representing more than 25 career fields exchanged information and ideas with counterparts in the Air Forces of Chile, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay, all with the goal of strengthening Airman-to-Airman relationships in the U.S. Southern Command area of focus. 

The event was the first Air Force subject matter exchange of its kind, involving discussions, classes and field exercises in disaster preparedness, intelligence, search and rescue, command and control, maintenance, family readiness, public affairs, environmental protection and other career fields while also leading several joint community outreach projects. 

Exchanges were designed to assist partner nation air forces during possible future cooperative efforts with US forces while strengthening interoperability, understanding and relations with key career field counterparts. In addition, Airmen volunteered their free time to visit orphanages and shelters for abused children, repair a library in a trade school for at-risk youth, toured local emergency facilities and taught the dynamics of flight to schoolchildren in downtown Santiago, Chile. 

"OSP has been overwhelmingly successful on many levels," said Lt. Col. Mitch Hanscom, the Operation Southern Partner director. "Airmen overcame numerous challenges to ensure the success of this operation - sharing and learning from hundreds of partner nation Airmen, graduating dozens of first responders from Defense Institute for Medical Operations courses, conducting three search and rescue exercises and actively volunteering in local communities....all in only two weeks." 

Members of Davis Monthan's 48th Rescue Squadron led search and rescue exchanges in Uruguay and Chile, jumping out of the C-17 alongside military members of each partner nation. During one jump, more than 140 Uruguayan military members accompanied Airmen on a mission to simulate rescue efforts over land and water. In Chile, the team accomplished a High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) jump near an air base in the desert town of Iquique. 

"This operation involved deploying approximately 30 Airmen from Davis Monthan -- and even more from across the United States -- as well as participants from the Army National Guard, USAF civilian employees, embassy and military group personnel, host nation Airmen and civilian first responders," said Colonel Hanscom. "Together, I know we've made a difference in the future relations between our Air Forces...our people." 

Before the team left, their commander explained the importance of the new mission.
"Operation Southern Partner is a tremendous opportunity for US Airmen to work alongside partner nation Airmen -- learning from each other new processes, tactics, techniques and procedures, to increase the effectiveness of our Air Forces during future operations or natural disaster and humanitarian aid response. The goal is to provide expertise to host nation Air Forces on the flightline, in the backshop, on base and in the community while building and strengthening partnerships between professional Airmen," said Lt. Gen. Norm Seip, the Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander. 

Once Airmen return to their home stations this week, emails and messages announcing planning meetings for the next Operation Southern Partner will already be in their inboxes. This spring, Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) will lead Air Force members in accomplishing two-way exchanges in Caribbean nations. 

"We're learning from each event," said Colonel Hanscom during the final outbriefing. "Our team is building on the lessons learned during this operation to ensure the next OSP is even more useful to our partners, includes more opportunities to meet with members of the community and is even more groundbreaking than the first iteration."
For more information on OSP visit: www.12af.acc.af.mil

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