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AFSOUTH to accomplish first-ever "Operation Southern Partner"

DAVIS-MONHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- A C-17 Globemaster III filled with more than 70 Airmen from across the Air Force will depart for South America Oct. 26th for the first-ever "Operation Southern Partner," a Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) led event aimed at providing intensive, periodic subject matter exchanges with partner nations in the US Southern Command area of focus. From 26 Oct to 7 Nov, USAF Airmen will work alongside military members from the Air Forces of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay, while accomplishing more than ten outreach and community relations projects.

The all-new program features subject matter experts from more than 25 career fields engaging with partner nation military members in similar career specialties during week-long exchanges. Each of the subject matter exchanges is in response to emphasis areas requested by host nations.

"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.

"This program is an opportunity to expand our engagement with partner nations beyond a traditional CT-1 team (usually 10-12 persons) or a classroom experience -- we'll be sharing information and learning in the best location possible -- where partner nation Airmen work every day," said Lt. Col. Mitch Hanscom, the Operation Southern Partner director. "This event will help partner nation Airmen involved in SME exchanges to protect the environment, provide medical care, communicate with the public, practice search and rescue, fly safely and manage military resources -- a tremendous benefit for such an investment."

Operation Southern Partner was conceived by the AFSOUTH Operations Division, headed by the Director of Operations, Col. James Russell and Col. James Murray, Chief -- Plans and Requirements Division, to complement to ongoing USSOUTHCOM Theatre Security Cooperation events.

After pitching the idea to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and receiving funding, the team leapt into action -- planning the first OSP event for the first month of the new fiscal year. AFSOUTH is already in the process of planning the second OSP event for spring 2009.
In addition to these two events, General Seip will host two Regional Air Chiefs conferences for those regions/nations not covered by OSP. The end result the General stated, "Will be engagement efforts covering the entire AFSOUTH area of focus each year; with normal bilateral CT-1s, SMEs, and one-on-one Air Chief engagements used to focus on particular Air Forces, regions or issues."

"I'm extremely thankful for the support of Airmen from around the Air Force and the support of General Schwartz (CSAF) and Admiral Stavridis (USSOUTHCOM/CC) in helping to bring this new program to reality," added General Seip.

Exchanges will include Airmen from the following career fields:
- Public Affairs - Aircraft maintenance - General Medicine
- Environmental, Safety, Occupational Health, Compliance Assessment, Management Program
- Logistics - Intelligence - Search and Rescue
- Sheet metal maintenance - Command and Control - Family Readiness
- Morale, Welfare, Recreation- English Language - Enlisted/Officer Professional Military Education
- Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers (RED HORSE)

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