Operation Southern Partner ends

  • Published
  • By Capt. Nathan D. Broshear
  • 12th Air Force Public Affairs
Operation Southern Partner ended after two weeks in South America as 70 Airmen aboard a C-17 Globemaster III touched down at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base at about 10 p.m Nov. 7 here. 

Airmen representing more than 25 career fields exchanged information and ideas with counterparts in the air forces of Chile, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay as they strengthened airman-to-airman relationships in the U.S. Southern Command area of focus. 

Air Force subject matter experts took part in discussions, classes and field exercises in disaster preparedness, intelligence, search and rescue, command and control, maintenance, family readiness, public affairs, environmental protection and other career fields while also leading several joint community outreach projects. 

Exchanges were designed to assist partner nation air forces during possible future cooperative efforts with U.S. forces while strengthening interoperability, understanding and relations with key career field counterparts. In addition, Airmen volunteered their free time to visit orphanages and shelters for abused children, repair a library in a trade school for at-risk youth, toured local emergency facilities and taught the dynamics of flight to schoolchildren in downtown Santiago, Chile. 

"Operation Southern Partner has been overwhelmingly successful on many levels," said Lt. Col. Mitch Hanscom, the Operation Southern Partner director. "Airmen overcame numerous challenges to ensure the success of this operation -- sharing and learning from hundreds of partner nation airmen, graduating dozens of first responders from Defense Institute for Medical Operations courses, conducting three search and rescue exercises and actively volunteering in local communities." 

Members of the Davis-Monthan AFB 48th Rescue Squadron led search and rescue exchanges in Uruguay and Chile, jumping out of a C-17 alongside military members of each partner nation. During one jump, more than 140 Uruguayan military members accompanied Airmen on a mission to simulate rescue efforts over land and water. In Chile, the team accomplished a high-altitude low-opening jump near an air base in the desert town of Iquique. 

"This operation involved deploying approximately 30 Airmen from Davis Monthan -- and even more from across the United States -- as well as participants from the Army National Guard, Air Force civilian employees, embassy and military group personnel, host nation airmen and civilian first responders," Colonel Hanscom said. "Together, I know we've made a difference in the future relations between our air forces (and) our people." 

Before the team left, their commander explained the importance of the new mission. 

"Operation Southern Partner is a tremendous opportunity for U.S. 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. Norman R. Seip, the 12th Air Force commander.

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