by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Hannen
621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs
3/30/2015 - BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- Members
of the 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron from Travis Air Force
Base (MSAS) finalized their training with members of the Colombian Air
Force while observing their performance of an air drop mission near
Bogota, Colombia, March 4, 2015.
The successful air drop concluded a month-long Air mobility Command
Building Partner Capacity mission. The mission of BPC is to build
stronger international air force cooperation, interoperability and
mutual support in coordination with 12th Air Force's (Air Force's
Southern)continued engagements in the U.S. Southern Command area of
responsibility of Latin America and the Caribbean.
571 MSAS pilots and loadmaster instructors observed five Colombian
parachute jumpers and two pallets successfully land within the
recommended target range during two passes in a Colombian Air Force Casa
295 aircraft. This successful airdrop concluded a month-long Air
Mobility Command Building Partner Capacity mission.
According to Maj. Justin Allen, 571 MSAS Colombia mission commander,
this was the first air drop mission where 571 MSAS instructors were
allowed to go on the aircraft and fly with the Colombians.
"In the past we taught classes, set up an exercise and then let them go
execute the mission," said Allen. "That is very similar to simply
telling someone how to drive a car, then giving them the keys and say
alright go at it. Again, we don't know what we don't know until we sit
there and watch them. Just as they don't know what they don't know until
we tell them. As observers we can't see what happens inside the
aircraft until we get to fly with them. The air observer piece was
extremely important and very beneficial to our understanding of how they
conduct their operations and what areas can be improved," Allen said.
The MSAS Airmen have been teaching seminars and advising the Colombian
Air Force twice a year since August of 2012, but until recently, the
Colombian Air Force had little experience in air drop procedures. In the
last six months, the Columbian airmen have been able to leverage more
air drop missions from the Army and have been able to conduct the
operations safely and successfully.
"Prior to this they (the Colombians) didn't have any airdrop missions
other than when we visited and prepared a training mission for them,"
said Maj Allen.
Colombia is a very large country with few roads and the military
operates about 12 bases throughout the country. Smaller countries in the
region use helicopters as their primary means of transporting people
and cargo. Helicopters cannot carry enough cargo, nor do they travel
fast enough, so they are not the preferred method of military transport
in Columbia. Colombia is currently battling the Transnational Criminal
Organizations, their war against the FARC Revolutionary Armed Forces and
their war on drugs.
"Our efforts here are specifically helping them to conduct air drop
operations that will allow them to resupply troops and forward operating
bases throughout the country," Allen said. "They can resupply those
troops with additional personnel if needed."
Staff Sgt. Peter Salinas, Loadmaster, has been an air drop and rigging
instructor in Colombia on five 571 MSAS trips and has taught 30
"I would say this drop went very, very well," said Staff Sgt. Salinas.
"The success was a collaboration of the navigators, pilots, loadmasters
and jumpers. They went from not being able to air drop and now they can
air drop Container Delivery System bundles. We are still taking baby
steps in order for them to get completely proficient and effective in
the air drop, but we are happy with their progress," Salinas said.
According to Salinas, there are still steps needed to increase the capability of the Columbian air force.
"We only come in for four weeks at a time twice a year and they don't
get a lot of airdrop experience in between those seminars," Allen said.
"They can only get certain air drop operations and we are trying to
raise that level of excellence. Some of their procedures and some of the
things they are doing, it is just lack of experience, but it is not a
lack of motivation or will. These guys are super energetic and they
really want to learn how to get the mission done."
Another measure of success is the fact that the Colombian airmen are
taking the knowledge the 571 MSAS has taught them on air drop and
rigging procedures, and have gone to additional exercises in South
America to train others.
"They are definitely taking the skills that we are teaching and they are
providing training for other countries," Allen said. "They are
providing airmanship, air drop, maintenance and other skill sets to
The BPC mission is to build stronger international air force
cooperation, interoperability and mutual support in coordination with.
The MSAS Airmen, based out of Travis Air Force Base, Calif., have been
teaching seminars and advising the Colombian Air Force for a month twice
a year since August 2012 to help them grow.