Maintainers partner to exchange new practices

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III
  • Defense Media Activity-San Antonio
Nearly 30 Argentinean air force aircraft maintenance mechanics, students and instructors came together at Palomar Air Base here Oct. 31 to exchange new ideas and techniques on preserving and evaluating aircraft as part of Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern)'s Operation Southern Partner.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. David Hinojosa an aircraft structural maintenance instructor for the Inter-American Air Force Academy at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, carried his classroom curriculum to Argentina for a four-day course in maintenance techniques and corrosion preventative measures helping to create a stronger partnership with his Argentinean peers and fellow students during the operation. 

Operation Southern Partner is an AFSOUTH-led event aimed at providing intensive, periodic subject matter exchanges with partner nations in the U.S. Southern Command area of focus. The all-new program features more than 70 U.S. Air Force subject matter experts from about 25 career fields working alongside partner nation military members in similar career specialties during weeklong exchanges. 

"Our integration is very important; it's good to have exchanges with our militaries to save money and time," said Senior Master Sgt. Jose Minichiello, training superintendent for the 1st Air Brigade, Technical Group D. "It also broadens everyone's way of learning, because we are two different cultures studying together." 

The event lead by Sergeant Hinojosa will provide supplemental information on aircraft structural repair and parts fabrication for damages created by battle, age and metal corrosion. Both countries will be sharing new practices on how to better maintain their aircraft. The information shared here this week not only helps at Palomar AB, but also will be exchanged with all Argentinean bases, Sergeant Minichiello said. 

"We always receive precise information when learning from the United States and it also helps to better understand each other's Air Force culture," Sergeant Minichiello said. "Our integrations and support help to maintain democracy throughout the world."
Most of the information shared will revolve around the C-130 Hercules, Argentina's main military transport aircraft. Which is used in times of peace and war, also providing support for fires, humanitarian relief and in maintaining transport for an airfield in Antarctica. 

For Argentinean air force Staff Sgt. Mariano Arnaudo, a C-130 Mechanic, the partnership event has a two-fold meaning. As a former student of Sergeant Hinojosa's, Sergeant Arnaudo has the opportunity to show his friend around Buenos Aires, as well as get hands-on time with his former instructor on a C-130 aircraft. 

"It's great to see my instructor, alumni and friend," Sergeant Arnaudo said. "We created a genuine friendship at Lackland and it's great to see each other again." 

Sergeant Arnaudo considers his time with the U.S. Air Force as an IAAFA student one of the greatest experiences of his life, and looks forward to building more relationships with Operation Southern Partner in the years to come. 

"We are grateful for the information and technical documents provided and the ability to come together and share. I know this partnership will generate great results," Sergeant Arnaudo said. 

During Operation Southern Partner, Sergeant Hinojosa has the opportunity to see the information and techniques he's taught in the classroom being utilized and seeing the results. He said he hopes during this exchange event he will bring new information to his Argentinean friends making it easier to help them care for their aircraft. 

"I'd like to see this operation grow," Sergeant Hinojosa said. "It is great to create these bonds together and knowing continents away you each now have a friend."

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