Colombian airmen join counterparts in Louisiana for Green Flag East
By Capt. Bryan Bouchard, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)
/ Published August 17, 2016
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFNS) -- Forty-five Colombian airmen and four Colombian Air Force A-29B Super Tucanos are operating from Barksdale Air Force Base as part of exercise Green Flag East.
The Colombian contingent arrived Aug. 13 and immediately started engaging with their U.S. Air Force counterparts in order to prepare for the two-week exercise, which ends Aug. 29.
“Participating in exercises like this are important to improve the interoperability with other air forces,” said Colombian Air Force Brig. Gen. Rodrigo Alejandro Valencia Guevara, the commander of the Colombian contingent. “It’s important to know different people and different cultures.”
Green Flag East is one of Air Combat Command’s premier close air support exercises, which rehearses close air support tactics while enhancing interoperability with Air Force and Army forces.
“I take great pride and satisfaction in training aircrews as well as ground crews for deployments,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Greg Theriot, the Green Flag East air operations officer. “Everyone who comes through here at some point will employ their weapon system. When you see them do that in a safe and legal way, that saves lives; it’s very rewarding.”
In addition to the mission aspect, multi-national engagements such as this exercise allow airmen of partner nations to build upon yearslong relationships.
“In this global age that we’re in, we’re practically neighbors,” Theriot said. “Our countries share similar values, and it’s important to keep this partnership strong.”
Two weeks before Green Flag East kicked off, a Colombian general served as the combined forces air component commander for U.S. Southern Command’s Panamax, a command and control exercise focusing on a nearly 20-nation coalition. This Green Flag East iteration is another example of the special relationship between the two countries.
“On behalf of my Air Force team here, and the Colombian Air Force commander, we appreciate being able to participate in this special exercise,” Guevara said.
In addition to the Colombian aircraft, U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia; F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Texas Air National Guard; KC-135 Stratotankers from McConnell AFB, Kansas; and E-3 Sentry and E-8 Joint STARS aircraft from Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, and Robins AFB, Georgia, respectively, will participate in the exercise.