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U.S. Airmen return from Brazilian-led CRUZEX exercise

U.S. Air Force airmen from the 113th Maintenance Squadron perform an inspection of an F-16 prior to take off at Natal Air Base, Brazil, Nov. 12, 2013. The purpose of CRUZEX is to prepare participants to work effectively in support of multinational operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Camilla Elizeu/Released)

U.S. Air Force airmen from the 113th Maintenance Squadron perform an inspection of an F-16 prior to take off at Natal Air Base, Brazil, Nov. 12, 2013. The purpose of CRUZEX is to prepare participants to work effectively in support of multinational operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Camilla Elizeu/Released)

Brazilian air force 3rd Sgt. Romulo Carvalho jumps for the ball during a friendly game of football at Natal Air Base, Natal, Brazil Nov. 6, 2013. After all jets took off U.S. Air Force airmen tossed a football with a few Brazilian air force airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Camilla Elizeu/Released)

Brazilian air force 3rd Sgt. Romulo Carvalho jumps for the ball during a friendly game of football at Natal Air Base, Natal, Brazil Nov. 6, 2013. After all jets took off U.S. Air Force airmen tossed a football with a few Brazilian air force airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Camilla Elizeu/Released)

Brazilian, Canadian and U.S. pararescuemen prepare to board a Brazilian C-130E Hercules during CRUZEX at Natal Air Base, Natal, Brazil, Nov. 7, 2013. Exercises such as CRUZEX are designed and led by a host nation, partnering nations receive training opportunities that are beneficial to the entire region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Camilla Elizeu/Released)

Brazilian, Canadian and U.S. pararescuemen prepare to board a Brazilian C-130E Hercules during CRUZEX at Natal Air Base, Natal, Brazil, Nov. 7, 2013. Exercises such as CRUZEX are designed and led by a host nation and partnering nations receive training opportunities that are beneficial to the entire region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Camilla Elizeu/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Antonio Garza, 113th Fighter Wing District of Colombia Air National Guard Washington, D.C., crew chief, recovers an F-16C Fighting Falcon at Natal Air Base, Natal, Brazil, Nov. 3, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Camilla Elizeu/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Antonio Garza, 113th Fighter Wing District of Colombia Air National Guard Washington, D.C., crew chief, recovers an F-16C Fighting Falcon at Natal Air Base, Natal, Brazil, Nov. 3, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Camilla Elizeu/Released)

An F-16C Fighting Falcon from the 113th Fighter Wing District of Colombia Air National Guard Washington, D.C., lands at Natal Air Base, Natal, Brazil, Nov. 3, 2013. More than five F-16s will be taking part in the Brazilian-led training exercise, CRUZEX. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Camilla Elizeu/Released)

An F-16C Fighting Falcon from the 113th Fighter Wing District of Colombia Air National Guard Washington, D.C., lands at Natal Air Base, Natal, Brazil, Nov. 3, 2013. Six F-16s will be taking part in the Brazilian-led training exercise, CRUZEX. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Camilla Elizeu/Released)

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.

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