Military News

Friday, March 27, 2015

373rd TRS trains Royal Air Force

by Staff Sgt. Rachelle Blake
55th Wing Public Affairs


3/27/2015 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb.  -- Joining the military to see the world isn't just an American Airmen mindset; members of the U.K. Royal Air Force look forward to the same luxury and can be found enjoying it right here at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

"We are here for three months training," said Senior Aircraftsman Technical Stuart Preston, 51 Squadron, RAF Waddington, United Kingdom. "I wish we could stay longer. I love America."

The 373rd Training Squadron, Detachment 11, housed in the Bennie Davis Maintenance Facility, teaches the RAF troops a series of courses on RC-135 Rivet Joint maintenance or avionics, depending on their career field.

Preston is one of two RAF students in the current avionics course. The class normally runs five months, but theirs was cut short due to operational and manpower requirements at their home unit.

"I am learning a lot," said Corporal Lee Taylor, 51 SQ. "My base trade is an electrician and now I get to learn the avionics parts, which I haven't touched before."

The partnership between Offutt and the RAF began as a result of a letter of agreement signed by the Department of Defense and the U.K. Ministry of Defense in March 2010. It enabled the RAF to purchase several RC-135s to replace their Nimrod R1.

Prior to coming to the base, Preston and Taylor had been working with the RC-135 for a year.

"We come here to get advanced training," Taylor said. "This course will further our knowledge in the categories of communications navigation, guidance and control, and electrical systems."

For guidance and control instructor U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Phillip Backes, 373rd TRS, Det. 11, their prior experience is a plus.

"Most of the Airmen I teach have only been working on the aircraft for six months, so these guys have a larger background before they come through," he said.

His fellow instructor agreed.

"I enjoy instructing the students because it gives me an opportunity to formally instruct them in a classroom setting, as opposed to in the operational world," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Thomas Borzsei. "It is also nice that they are fast learners."

But, there were some minor hurdles to overcome at first.

"There are some differences with the lingo, acronyms and some paperwork, but we generally follow the same technical orders," Taylor said. "It hasn't been particularly difficult to assimilate with another country."

He added their differences have made for some interesting conversations in the classroom.

"We have also had a bit of a laugh with the instructors about how we are the ones who spell and pronounce things correctly," said Taylor. "We have had a bit of a friendly banter."

When the students aren't hard at work honing their skills, they also take time to soak in being abroad.

"We saw Washington D.C. this last weekend," Preston said. "I love getting to know the culture."

Although they said they will be sad to go, they are excited about passing on what they have learned.

"I think it is going to prove beneficial when I go back," Taylor said. "We will be able to share our knowledge with other colleagues on the aircraft."

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