U.S. Airmen return from Brazilian-led CRUZEX exercise Published Nov. 19, 2013 By Capt. Justin Brockhoff 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB, Ariz. -- U.S. Air Force Airmen and Air National Guardsmen participated in Cruzeiro do Sul, a Brazilian-hosted air force exercise testing air-to-air maneuvers, mission planning, airdrop operations, and search and rescue skills, November 4 to 15. In all, more than 150 U.S. Airmen, six F-16 Fighting Falcons, and a KC-135 Statotanker deployed to air bases Natal and Recife for the exercise, commonly referred to as CRUZEX. The U.S. participants joined more than 2,000 military members from Canada and multiple South American countries where participants worked to promote interoperability in support of multinational operations. The U.S.'s F-16 fighters flew 53 sorties during the event and another eight sorties were flown by the KC-135 tanker crew to provide the fighters with gas via air-to-air refueling. In addition, two U.S. Air Force pararescue members conducted 10 parachute jumps along with Brazilian and Canadian Airmen, and a U.S. MC-130 Combat Talon pilot was able to ride with other nation's mobility aircrews to exchange best practices in airlift and airdrop operations. "CRUZEX was a fantastic opportunity for our Airmen from start to finish," said Col. Keith Colmer, the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Air National Guard Advisor who served as the U.S. detachment commander at CRUZEX. "Not only did we get to use this as a training event for our U.S. participants, but more importantly we got to work alongside other air forces in a way that builds partnerships and makes us all better at what we do." The participating nations trained alongside each other in fictitious scenarios to prepare for potential events across the world. These internationally-sanctioned actions might include supporting peacekeeping and stability operations, supporting civilian authorities during humanitarian response operations and assisting coalition neighbors in the aftermath of a natural disaster. "The purpose of [participating] with other countries is to learn different techniques and expand our knowledge as well as theirs," said Capt. Kyle, a U.S. Air Force combat rescue officer that participated in the parachute jumps with other pararescue experts. "We can all learn something from each other." CRUZEX also helps increase unit readiness by giving the U.S. participants the opportunity to deploy away from the U.S., operate in an unfamiliar location, and redeploy home once the exercise has concluded. "This event is valuable to our Airmen in so many ways," added Colmer. "Each participating nation brings unique experiences to the table that are equally valuable to the success of CRUZEX. All of our Airmen are coming home with a few more friends and some valuable lessons learned." Senior Airman Camilla Elizeu contributed to this report.