News: Pacific airlift rally starts in Sri Lanka
Story by Master Sgt. Cohen Young
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- More than 300 military members from the Royal Australian Air Force, the Sri Lankan Air Force, the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the U.S. Air Force gathered together, Aug. 22, for the start of Pacific Airlift Rally 2011, a Pacific Air Force sponsored, biennial multilateral tactical military airlift symposium held in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
PAR is designed to enhance military airlift interoperability and cooperation between nations of the Pacific Region, so they are familiar when working with one another during humanitarian missions.
“An exercise like this is good because it allows everyone to fly with each other and see how they do things,” said Flight Lt. Christian Yates-Round of the 37th Squadron, RAAF. “It enables us to do well together in case of a real world emergency or disaster.”
This is a great opportunity for all involved to improve on disaster relief operations.
This gives the Sri Lankan air force crews an opportunity to work with and understand the procedures and philosophies adapted by the other nations that may come to our aid in a time of need,” said Cmdr. Sarike Aranayake, the commanding officer of the 2nd Airlift Squadron, Sri Lankan air force. “It also prepares us to help out in a situation anywhere in the world.”
The crews will exchange techniques in several types of humanitarian mission scenarios that will involve not only air to land techniques but personnel drops as well.
“This is my first time working with the Sri Lankans and I’m really looking forward to it so we can see how we both do things and then see what we can learn from each other,” added Yates-Round.
This exercise is making a little bit of history because it’s been a long time since the United States has worked with the Sri Lankan air force in Sri Lanka.
“No one in the U.S. Air Force has had the opportunity to come train in Sri Lanka in 20 years,” said Lt Col Tim Rapp, the commander of the 36th Expeditionary Squadron.
PAR will run from Aug. 22-26 and will have aircrews from each nation flying daily and sometimes twice in order to produce a cohesive team by week’s end.
“Day one won’t be as effective as day five as we get familiar with one another and what each other needs, but by week’s end, we’ll be fling as one in the same air space,” said Rapp.