SOUTHWEST ASIA: More than 300 Airmen partnered with colleagues from five other countries for an exercise held in Southwest Asia that concluded in mid-December.
The event began in November and simulated a "large force employment," and gave participating nations a chance to develop solutions to potential issues that might occur during contingency operations.
Aircrews from France, Jordan, Pakistan, the U.K., and the U.S
. took part in simulated air battles as well as the advanced tactical leadership course, which included more than 200 hours of classroom instruction. In addition, ground crews collaborated on maintenance and security challenges.
Overall, the exercise was based around building partnerships and learning how to operate together as a unified force, said Col. John Owens, who oversaw the involvement of Airmen in the exercise as the 363rd Training Group commander.
"Our being here is a sign of our commitment in the region," Colonel Owens said. "Our goal is to enhance and develop relationships with coalition members and the local air warfare center."
Pilots learned how to be mission commanders in a coalition environment and each nation took turns in planning how to use assets from other countries for missions.
"Different countries have different approaches to resolving issues, but we all want to achieve the same things," Colonel Owens said. "It's easier to work with someone when you understand them a little bit better and you don't want to have to figure out how to work together when you're already in combat. (The exercise) was about establishing that common ground and finding ways to work as one team."
For the enlisted crews, there were several chances to partner with their peers and solve their challenges while working in a multinational environment as well.
"With all the different countries here, there were a lot of different airframes, so everyone had great opportunities to learn from one another," said Senior Master Sgt. Paul Turner, the 363rd TRG superintendent.
"Maintenance people share a common bond of similar experiences and working extended hours, often under adverse weather conditions, to support the mission," Sergeant Turner said. "The same holds true for our coalition partners, so the opportunity to share those experiences is invaluable."
"This exercise is important for the United States and affirms our pledge to our partners in the region that we're all on the same team," Colonel Owens said. "(The exercise gave) everyone participating better situational awareness of everyone else's capabilities, so if we ever have to work together outside of an exercise, we're already on the same page."