Thursday, October 22, 2009

AFSOUTH Airmen participate in Exercise SALITRE II

by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (AFNS) -- More than 190 Air Forces Southern Airmen are representing the United States during Exercise SALITRE II, a Chilean air force-led coalition exercise which began Oct. 17 and ends Nov. 2, in Antofagasta and Iquique, Chile.

SALITRE is a coalition air exercise, including search and rescue, aerial refueling and combined air operations center training opportunities focused on interoperability, according to Col. Bryan Bearden, the 12th AF (AFSOUTH) director of operations and exercise director for U.S. Air Force participation in SALITRE. In addition to Chile and the United States, France, Argentina, and Brazil will also participate.

"SALITRE is an opportunity for Airmen to practice working with their counterparts from across Latin America," Colonel Bearden said. "We're training together so we can respond to a crisis or integrate into United Nations peacekeeping operations as a unified team in the future."

During the exercise, aircraft from all participating nations will simulate a wide variety of operations in a realistic peacekeeping, non-combatant evacuation and humanitarian response scenario. In addition, participants will exercise command and control of a simulated air campaign involving fictional scenarios within a combined air operations center.

Scenarios within SALITRE will have broad application across many spectrums of conflict or civil support, including support of UN-type responses worldwide, Colonel Bearden said.

For example, during one scenario, rescue personnel will secure an airfield and tend to patients as part of a unified team. This type of response is vital to ensure countries are able to respond to situations with their own military and law enforcement resources. Simulated peacekeeping operations will prepare participants to support UN-type coalition operations, such as global peacekeeping and stability missions, enforcing no-fly zones or patrolling for pirates. Non-combatant evacuation operations simulated during SALITRE II will prepare nations to support civilian authorities after earthquakes, floods or hurricanes.

Other training opportunities planned for SALITRE include high-altitude airfield landings, a key skill for cargo pilots in Latin America and for U.S. aircrews supporting operations across the region.

"While the training uses fictional scenarios, the skills participants will practice during SALITRE are meant to prepare them to not only work together as part of a larger coalition, but also to support local law enforcement, first responders and civil defense forces," Colonel Bearden said.

"Each of the participating air forces -- French, Argentine, Brazilian and Chilean -- brings a unique skill set and aircraft to the mission, and each of the participants are equally valuable to the success of the exercise," Colonel Bearden said. "These different skill sets help to make SALITRE the robust training environment participants expect in today's modern Air Force exercises."

The majority of the U.S. presence is located at the Cerro Moreno Air Base in Antofagasta, Chile. Another group of Airmen is working out of the Diego Aracena AB in Iquique, Chile.

The U.S. Air Force will be represented by:

-- 2 HC-130 Hercules aircraft from the 71st Rescue Squadron at Moody AFB, Ga.

-- 2 KC-135 Stratotankers from the 197th Aerial Refueling Squadron from the Arizona Air National Guard in Phoenix.

-- 6 F-15C Eagles from the 122nd Fighter Squadron from the Louisiana Air National Guard in New Orleans.

Not only will airmen work together in the sky above the Atacama Desert (the wilderness in the northern portion of Chile), they're also planning a series of community outreach events. Airmen from each partner nation air force will team up to showcase aircraft to local leaders, meet with area children and provide interactive learning opportunities during after-school activities.