JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
Students from both the Inter-American Air Force Academy’s 837th Training Squadron and the 343rd TRS from the 37th Training Group partnered in what each are hoping will be the first of many joint military training exercises.
The 837th TRS spent several weeks training for this exercise, which put them on the same team with students from Combat Leaders Course. Each squadron conducted missions separately prior to the first-ever exercise.
According to Tech. Sgt. Brian Lamorie, 343rd TRS instructor supervisor, the idea was the result of timing.
”Everything happened at the right time,” he said.
Both groups met at the forward operations base at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis Nov. 8 ready to expect the unexpected.
“We’re gonna act as a support unit to the mission they’re conducting,” said Staff Sgt. Josue Tello, 837th TRS international force protection flight instructor.
Twenty-seven students from the 837th TRS consisted of personnel from Colombia and Honduras. Forty-five students from the 343rd TRS, comprised of noncommissioned officers — each experienced in reconnaissance, ambush missions, and combat patrolling entrenched — joined their international counterparts for the mission.
The student-led course was taught to help them prepare for several factors.
“The language barrier is gonna be interesting,” said Lamorie, adding how the teams communicate will be important. “It’s going to be completely (foreign) to all of them because this is something that has never been done before.”
Tello said both units have more in common than they think.
“Both are pretty similar as far as tactics, troop leading procedures, patrolling, convoy operations and this is where our (IAAFA) partnership skills will come into place to see how good we’re providing a world class instruction,” said Tello.
The operation lasted about four hours. Tello’s international students were told to be ready to adapt to the JBSA-Camp Bullis terrain, which is similar to their respective home countries.
The mission was for the joint forces to clear a village and secure a target, but that didn’t mean there wouldn’t be challenges.
“We want to put them under a little bit of stress,” said Tello.
“We want them to step outside of their comfort zone and not worry too much about failure and take advantage of this training opportunity,” he said. “We’re just gonna drop it on them and see how they react as NCOs; what type of leadership they are,” said Lamorie.
By putting them in situations they haven’t already been in, Lamorie’s students will become better leaders as a result.
This training exercise was the first for many IAAFA students.
“Some of them have never worked with U.S. military,” said Tello. “This is their first time in the United States.”
The unification of both units will continue to strengthen bonds with IAAFA’s international students from partner nations in the Western Hemisphere. Lamorie’s students got the chance to look into the future with regard to forming positive relationships with other countries around the world.
“It’s really to get them used to playing along with other countries or individuals since we are in a changing environment,” said Lamorie.
Both groups communicated very well, said Tello.
“They executed (the mission) excellent(ly). It was amazing,” said Tello.