Airmen continued to build partnerships and strengthen relations with Azeri military forces in Azerbaijan Feb. 18 through 22.
Three Airmen from the 435th Contingency Response Group building partnership capacity dedicated mission component traveled to Baku, Azerbaijan, to work with 24 Azeri military air force officers. The event focused on several air base support topics, including safety and accident investigation differences, vehicle management support considerations, and airfield operations core concepts.
In addition to the air base topics, development of professional Airman and the corresponding NCO professional military education were discussed.
“We familiarized them with the U.S. Air Force process of aircraft mishap investigations,” said Maj. Ryan Guess, 435th CRG airfield operations officer and air adviser. “They also wanted to (discuss) how we manage airfield operations, for instance, how we take care of our airfield. We also went through the process on how we professionally develop our Airmen in the military.”
During a prior year’s visit to Azerbaijan, the 435th CRG building partnership Airmen conducted a familiarization event with the Azeris covering airfield management, airspace management and base communications architecture. This year’s visit was a direct result of the prior trip.
The Azeri air force requested additional topics to be covered, including airfield vehicle maintenance operations and airfield safety.
“They (Azeris) were very appreciative of (the information exchange) that they got from the Air Force,” said Staff Sgt. Luis Devotto, 435th CRG NCOIC of special vehicle maintenance and air adviser.
The Azeri air force counterparts were very perceptive, asked a lot of questions and provided valuable input, he said.
In order to become air advisers, the 435th CRG building partnership Airmen received extensive training, which included more than 120 hours of air adviser specific formal instruction. This specialized training is in addition to the core contingency response qualification training completed by all unit members from the 42 different career specialties.
The air advisers’ mission is to build relations with partner nations and become familiar with different best practices, Devotto said.
Building relations included finding ways around language barriers, and being able to understand one another was an important part of this visit.
“Using an interpreter was challenging,” Guess said. “As the week went on, it got easier because they began to anticipate us some and we were also conscious of speaking style. We paced with our interpreter and avoided acronyms. It was important for us to recognize and adapt quickly to ensure excellent communication.”
The main reason for these events is to familiarize each country with respective Air Force processes; however, it’s also a chance for trained professional Airmen to contribute to an exciting mission with dramatic impact.
“It was a great opportunity for us to immerse in their culture and understand their military as well as for them to work shoulder to shoulder with our American military members,” Guess said. “The peer-to-peer interaction opportunity at the action officer level was very rewarding for both nations. We very much look forward to future mutual engagement opportunities.”
(Editor’s note: Maj. Austin Burrill, 435th CRG/BPC air adviser, contributed to this article.)