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AF firefighters qualify to train Central American counterparts

  • Published
  • By Capt. Steven Stubbs
  • Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs
Twelve members from the 612th Air Base Squadron Fire Emergency Services completed the Air Advisor Academy’s five-day academic mobile training team course Sept. 15-19, to become the first group to receive air advisor training qualified to provide partner nation firefighting training.

The air advisor training supplied the Airmen with a broad picture of building cooperative relations with their Central American counterparts.

It showed them how to effectively communicate in a cross-cultural environment, how to best use interpreters and how to conduct media relations. The course culminated with classes discussing specific information about El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Costa Rica and Panama, whom they will be teaching during their missions.

"We received a general overview of some of their culture and deep rooted ancestry," said Master Sgt. William Janczewski, the 612 ABS Fire Emergency Services deputy fire chief. "This training will allow us to relate better, on a deeper level, with our partner nations. Having more insight into what motivates them or knowing them on a more personal level enables us to better get the training across to the attendees."

The week-long course empowered the 612th ABS firefighters to conduct the Central America Sharing Mutual Operational Knowledge and Experiences, or CENTAM S.M.O.K.E., exercises. CENTAM S.M.O.K.E provides the partner nation firefighters with training in safety, personal protective equipment, apparatus familiarization, fire hose applications, structural, car, helicopter and aircraft live fire evolutions, and medical training.

"These firefighters are already experts in their field. They come to the fight with all the skills and abilities," said Col. Steven Cabosky, the Air Advisor Academy commandant. "What our training does is give them a little broader perspective and make them ambassadors of the United States during their upcoming exercises."

Having already spent six months in South America on a previous deployment, Capt. Clemente Berrios, a 612th ABS civil engineer, vouched for the positive impact they can have on the partner nations. "CENTAM S.M.O.K.E. is perfect for providing our mission partners with the necessary skills to become more efficient at firefighting. It allows us to work hand-in-hand with the other Central American countries and promote unity through training."

Ultimately, the mobile training team provided 612th ABS service members with the tools they need to make future partner nation engagements possible.

"(The objective is) to train the trainers," said Lt. Col. Sergio Vega, the 612th ABS commander. "To build upon air advisor successes and empower our Airmen in the crucial role in building partner capacity, demonstrating our commitment to assisting in the development of partner countries' capabilities to address regional security and shared responsibilities in fostering peace and security."

The primary objective of CENTAM S.M.O.K.E. is to foster a strong professional relationship with partner nation firefighting personnel by promoting dialogue, improving information sharing as well as refining existing tactics, techniques and procedures. Since 2007, Joint Task Force-Bravo has trained more than 800 firefighters from all Central American countries.