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    Bilingual Airmen fortify partnerships

    Bilingual Airmen fortify partnerships

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Jacob Gutierrez | U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. William McDowell, 79th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and...... read more read more

    Airpower is spoken through one universal language. The power of the engines rumbles through the air and reverberates back with nothing lost in translation.

    Thousands of feet above them, U.S. and Colombian Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Colombiana) partners watch as their pilots operate under an implicit code with one another that allows them to accomplish soaring feats of technical ability.

    On the ground, Airmen from the 79th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and 474th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron showcase their own bilingual skills demonstrating both a hidden strength and a necessary linchpin to bolstering our ongoing partnership with the Fuerza Aérea Colombiana during Exercise Relampago VI.

    “Communication is the key to any partnership,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. William McDowell, 79th EFS and 474th EOSS commander. “We’ve developed Airmen of all ranks who can cooperate and communicate with our partners and we’re seeing a huge return on investment with that in activities like Relampago VI.”

    Relampago VI is designed for Fuerza Aérea Colombiana and United States Air Force aircraft to fly together and against one another in training using NATO standards to promote seamless interoperability. Prior to takeoff, the pilots spent numerous hours training together in the classroom in both English and Spanish to develop skills, camaraderie and improve capabilities.

    “We strive for the same tactics, but because of a language barrier it has been a learning process getting to know each other and training with pilots from a different nation,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jack Corriere, 79th EFS F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot. “We have great instructor pilots here and they have a lot of experience. They are able to share that knowledge effectively and communicate effectively to the Colombian pilots as well.”

    Sending the F-16 Fighting Falcon up into the air requires just as much communication amongst the rest of the operations team. Spanish-speaking Airmen on the tarmac interact alongside the Colombian maintenance team and offer support between the two allies.

    U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Luis Pratts, 474th EOSS F-16 Fighting Falcon crew chief, has been regularly translating and learning alongside the Colombian Air Force during the exercise.

    “I feel like it’s important that I’m here, to help the mission go smoothly, translate when I need to and be able to be that bridge between the U.S. Air Force and the Colombian Air Force,” said Pratts. “Every nation, every unit and everywhere that has fighter aircraft does things differently so I love to be here during this exercise and show them what we know, and also take away from how they do things.”

    The commitment to training and learning together is just part of our promise to be a trusted partner in the Western Hemisphere by increasing collaboration, enhancing interoperability, and building partner nation capacity that is so critical for us to maintain security and prosperity in this region and our shared hemisphere.

    U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Paula Serna, 474th EOSS superintendent, acknowledges that her proficiency of the Spanish language has led to the ability for her to act as a liaison between the NATO partners and ensure needs are met and the mission can be successful.

    “One of the values of multi-lingual Airmen is going to assignments where our language skills are necessary,” said Serna. “We become the link between nations, and because of programs like LEAP the Air Force recognizes the power of communication and the ability to speak different languages.”

    The Language Enabled Airmen Program (LEAP) is an Air Force Culture and Language Center (AFCLC) managed, volunteer program open to Active Duty officer and enlisted Airmen and Guardians in most career fields. LEAP deliberately develops language enabled, cross-cultural service members across the General Purpose Force (GPF) with working-level foreign language proficiency.

    The multi-language abilities of U.S. Airmen with their partners make them exemplary in terms of capability and capacity to be adaptable to encounter situations across all theaters. As we look to the future, the way we communicate will be key to improving our collective ability to meet the complex global challenges of tomorrow.



    Date Taken: 07.28.2021
    Date Posted: 07.28.2021 18:01
    Story ID: 401943
    Location: RIONEGRO, CO

    Web Views: 190
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