Colombian airmen train at Barksdale Air Force Base

Published: Aug. 31, 2016 at 3:00 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2016 at 11:32 AM CDT
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Colombian Air Force Brig. Gen. Rodrigo Alejandro Valencia Guevara (right) speaks with Terrance...
Colombian Air Force Brig. Gen. Rodrigo Alejandro Valencia Guevara (right) speaks with Terrance Trammell, operations director for The Salvation Army of Shreveport-Bossier City, on Aug. 27. (Source: U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Mozer O. Da Cunha)

BARKSDALE AFB, LA (KSLA) - For the first time in 5 years, members of another nation's air force recently participated in Green Flag East.

Colombian Air Force pilots and maintenance personnel just wrapped 2 weeks of training at Barksdale Air Force Base.

Until then, Germany - in 2011 - was the most recent partner air force to take part in the exercise.

"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, commander of the Colombian contingent. "It's important to know different people and different cultures."

The 45 airmen and 4 A-29B Super Tucanos arrived Aug. 13 from Colombia for the exercise that ran Aug. 15-29.

Green Flag East is one of Air Combat Command's premier close-air support exercises. It:

  • lets pilots to train in a simulated, high-threat environment,
  • gives maintenance and support personnel an increased tempo in which to generate fully mission-capable combat aircraft, and,
  • enables soldiers and airmen to refine skills critical to calling in close-air support.

"I take great pride and satisfaction in training aircrews as well as ground crews for deployments," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Greg Theriot, air operations officer for Green Flag East. "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."

The U.S. and Colombia are partner nations.

"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."

Other units participating in Green Flag East included

  • U.S. Army forces at Fort Polk,
  • A-10s from the 23rd Wing at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia,
  • aircrew from the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona,
  • joint terminal attack controllers from the 14th Air Support Operations Squadron,
  • F-16s from the Texas Air National Guard,
  • KC-135s from McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas,
  • E-3s from Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, and,
  • E-8s from Robins Air Force Base in Georgia.

While here, the Colombian airmen donated supplies Aug. 27 to The Salvation Army of Shreveport-Bossier for delivery to flood relief centers in South Louisiana.

"As military members, we want to serve our country; and part of that is also supporting our community," said Guevara, commander of the Colombian contingent. "We are glad to be here in Louisiana. After seeing the news coverage of the floods, we wanted to do our part and help."

The group put together some funds and bought non-perishable items to help those in need, the general said.

Local Salvation Army officials said the gesture was tremendous.

"We are very grateful that the Colombian Air Force contingent made this donation," said Terrance Trammell, operations director. "We have seen things down there firsthand, and the affected families need all the help they can get."

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