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U.S. Airmen arrive for air exercise in Brazil

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. 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)

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)

Crew chief U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Antonio Garza, assigned to the 113th Fighter Wing, District of Colombia Air National Guard, Andrews Air Force Base, Md., 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)

Participating Air Forces of CRUZEX sit in on the kick-off briefing at Natal Air Base, Natal, Brazil, Nov. 4, 2013. In total, more than 2,000 military members are taking part in CRUZEX 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Camilla Elizeu/Released)

Participating Air Forces of CRUZEX sit in on the kick-off briefing at Natal Air Base, Natal, Brazil, Nov. 4, 2013. In total, more than 2,000 military members are taking part in CRUZEX 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Camilla Elizeu/Released)

NATAL AIR BASE, Brazil -- The U.S. Air Force is taking part in Cruzeiro do Sul Exercise, a Brazilian air exercise that officially kicked off Nov. 4 and is scheduled to complete Nov. 15 here.

The Brazilian Air Force-led exercise combines coalition aerial refueling and Combat Search and Rescue structured training with a focus on interoperability.

More than 130 U.S. Airmen are participating in CRUZEX along-side participants from Canada and multiple South American countries, totaling more than 2,000 military members between all countries.

There are more than 90 aircraft taking part in CRUZEX. The U.S. Air Force will participate with a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 161st Aerial Refueling Wing, Arizona Air National Guard, and six F-16s from the 113th Fighter Wing, District of Colombia Air National Guard,.  The participants will be simulating a wide variety of events in a fictitious peacekeeping response scenario.

"I am most excited about doing operations in a unique environment," said U.S. Air Force Col. Keith Colmer, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Air National Guard advisor.  "We are very familiar with our operations in our area of responsibility, but being in Brazil there are obvious and unique differences with the culture, language skills, and the local environment. The second big point is being able to build friendships that will allow us to do our job at 12th Air Force better for years to come, because really, this whole operation is about building relationships."

The primary aim of CRUZEX is to prepare the attending air forces to work together in the future, whether it be during natural disasters, evacuating civilians or refueling aircraft.

"The biggest challenge is being sympathetic to the pacing of the host nation as they work through the challenge of hosting more than 2,000 of their own pilots and airmen as well as another 700 deployed airmen from several other countries," Colmer said. "There is a refined skill in that, and we practice that a lot with all the different exercises we host in the U.S."

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