571st MSAS plays role in exercise Angel de los Andes

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Robert Hicks
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

RIONEGRO, Colombia -- Exercise Angel de los Andes, a multi-national search and rescue exercise hosted by Colombia, began operations here Sept. 3 and will continue through Sept. 14.

The two-week-long exercise will focus on exercising search and rescue, aeromedical evacuation and casualty evacuation operations and includes more than 400 service members from the U.S. Air Force, Colombia, Brazil, Canada, France, Panama, Peru, Dominican Republic, and a number of other countries.

While working alongside our partner nations in these scenarios, the 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron will also validate core objectives from five years of building partnership capacity engagements with the Colombian Air Force on its air drop operations, maintenance, aeromedical evacuations and combat search and rescue operations.

“This exercise is an excellent opportunity to see those capabilities in an execution phase,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Richard Clark, 571st MSAS mission commander. “While the Colombians already have their own training program, our job is to assist on particular areas to help develop their capabilities and move their training forward.”

Clark went on to explain that during this exercise their primary goals as air advisors are to bridge the gap between partner nations and the United States and to assess how effective they were at training the Colombian Air Force during past engagements.

The U.S. Air Force sent approximately 90 personnel to participate in the exercise along with a C-17 Globemaster III from Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, and a C-130 Hercules from the 133rd Airlift Wing, Minnesota Air National Guard.

Angel de los Andes provides the U.S. Air Force with the opportunity to continue to train and fly with their partners throughout the Americas, with a specific focus on search and rescue operations.

“This exercise establishes a regional capability,” Clark said. “Search and rescue interoperability with our partners is critical and it’s always a great opportunity when we can come together and standardize our operations.”

Week one of the exercise will highlight search and rescue operations such as a simulated down aircraft, an earthquake and a forest fire. Week two will focus on combat search and rescue and will include exercises dealing with scenarios such as a humanitarian aid convoy attack, a helicopter crash over water, and a downed pilot.

“I’m really excited about this exercise,” said Colombian Air Force Lt. Col. Fernando Mendoza, search and rescue mission coordinator. “I look forward to seeing the other countries’ technology, how they perform their search and rescue missions compared to ours, and how we can make ours better.”