by 2nd Lt. Stephen Hudson
169th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
2/27/2015 - MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- The
South Carolina Air National Guard at McEntire Joint National Guard Base
welcomed officers from the Colombian Air Force recently as part of a
Key Leader Engagement and Subject Matter Expert exchange.
The commander of the Colombian Air Force, General of Air Guillermo Leon
Leon, and six Colombian Air Force officers visited the base for three
days, taking time to meet with Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon flight
operations and maintenance subject matter experts from the 169th Fighter
In addition, the Colombian Air Force visitors received a tour of the
base's Army Aviation facilities and the South Carolina Air National
Guard Eagle Vision complex - the unclassified Air Force Tactical Mobile
Satellite Ground Station that produces near real-time unclassified
commercial imagery for use by various government agencies.
The three days at McEntire will only strengthen ties between the South
Carolina Air National Guard and Colombian Air Force, said Lt. Col.
Andrew Thorne, South Carolina Air National Guard State Partnership
"This is an excellent opportunity for us to share maintenance and flight
operations best practices and work together," said Thorne.
General Leon said this was his first time here to South Carolina and
wants to foster relationships between the South Carolina Air National
Guard and the Colombian Air Force.
The three-day visit with the Colombian Air Force flight and maintenance
officers is part of the South Carolina National Guard's State
Partnership Program with Colombia, which began in 2012. In August 2014,
nearly 100 "Swamp Fox" Airmen and six F-16s traveled to Rionegro,
Colombia, to train with the Colombian Air Force in an exercise called
"We were happy with the results and it was an inspiration for our pilots," Leon said of Relampago.
The State Partnership Program is a National Guard Bureau program that
began in 1991 in Eastern Europe. Today there are 74 nations
participation in this State Partnership Program initiative. Through
State Partnership Program, the National Guard conducts
military-to-military engagements in support of defense security goals to
facilitate broader interagency engagements spanning military,
government, economic and social areas of common interests.
Since its launch in 2012, when the South Carolina National Guard
introduced its State Partnership Program in the Republic of Colombia,
South Carolina has focused on establishing long-term relationships where
Colombia and South Carolina promote mutual interests and build lasting
capabilities for both partners.