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U.S. Airmen to participate in Brazilian-led exercise

DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB, Ariz. -- U.S. Air Force Airmen and Air National Guardsmen will be participating in CRUZEX, a Brazilian-hosted air force exercise in South America from November 4 to 15.

The primary aim of CRUZEX is to prepare participants to work together in support of multinational operations. Scenarios included in CRUZEX are fictitious and unrelated to any real nations or world events.

"The Brazilian Air Force hosts this exercise because it gives us a chance to integrate with the partners we have in South America and other nations outside like the U.S. and Canada," said Col. Paulo Vasconcellos, a Brazilian Air Force officer that serves as a liaison at 12th AF (AFSOUTH). "The idea is that we bring the countries together so we have a chance to foster the partnerships between ourselves and to exercise in some diverse areas."

The CRUZEX exercise strengthens the bonds between participating nations based on their shared interests. It also helps prepare participants to work together in the future.

Col. Gerald Colmer, 12th AF (AFSOUTH) Air National Guard Advisor, will be leading the U.S. Air Force team as the detachment commander.

"The big part of this exercise is fostering our relationships with the other participants," said Colmer. "This exercise is the Brazilian equivalent of our Red Flag and it's really a major opportunity for military-to-military exchange. We have multiple countries participating and it's an opportunity to make friends and to fly together using common language, goals and tactics. The biggest take away is to fly as partners in an environment that replicates what we do around the world."

More than 150 U.S. Airmen are participating in CRUZEX, ranging in career field specialties from aircrews to maintenance and logistics. The aircraft scheduled to participate in the exercise include the F-16 Fighting Falcon and KC-135 Stratotanker.

In past years, U.S. Airmen serving in the CRUZEX have not only paticipated in exchanges with partner nation air forces, but have also learned best-practices from other participants. Each air force benefits from the opportunity to fly together, train together, and share a common Airmen culture.

"The biggest thing I'm expecting to learn is how the other participants approach these types of activities, events, and training and to see how passionate they are about the process," Colmer said.

CRUZEX will help prepare participants to respond to events across the world. These internationally-sanctioned actions might include: supporting peacekeeping and stability operations, deterring aggression, enforcing no-fly zones, supporting civilian authorities during humanitarian response operations and assisting coalition neighbors in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

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