571st MSAS MTT: Building Partner Capacity in Guatemala

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Scott Warner
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

A 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron mobile training team, or MTT, traveled to Guatemala City, Guatemala throughout February and March to advise members from the Guatemalan Air Force on logistics readiness, materiel management and aircraft maintenance.

A team of nine air advisors worked with the Fuerza Aérea Guatemalteca on the three strategic military areas of interest while strengthening rapport with a partner nation within the Guatemalan capital.

“This mission, along with others in Guatemala, is to improve our interoperability with the Guatemalan Air Force, primarily in humanitarian aid, disaster response and countering transnational criminal organizations operations,” Lt. Col. Nick Rapp, the 571st MSAS director of operations said. “We achieve this by conducting training in the areas of logistics readiness, materiel management and aircraft maintenance in support of U.S. Southern Command, Allied Forces South and U.S. Embassy objectives.”

In order to bring new capabilities to a partner nation and conduct training in these areas, the 571st MSAS had to build a specialized team to accommodate the mission. 

“A MTT is formed specifically with air advisors based on their capabilities as subject matter experts in their respective career fields and based on their knowledge proficiency with the host nation’s native language,” Capt. Christian Castro-Diaz, 571st MSAS Guatemalan MTT mission commander said.

According to Air Force Instruction 10-4301: Air Advising Operations, air advisors are specially trained and educated to apply aviation support and operational expertise to assess, train, advise, assist and equip partner nations in the development, sustainment and employment of their aviation enterprise to meet their national security needs, in support of U.S. interests.

“Air advisors constitute a pivotal element within the security cooperation mission, distinguished by their linguistic proficiency, cultural acumen and strategic insight,” Master Sgt. Eddie Morgan, 571st MSAS operations superintendent said.” Their nuanced understanding of partner nations and the regional context empowers them to perpetually enhance capacity-building efforts. This strategic acuity positions the U.S. as the preferred partner by fostering enduring relationships and effectively advancing U.S. objectives.”

Morgan emphasized that air advisors continue to have a profound impact on security cooperation missions which underscores their instrumental role in shaping and fortifying collaborative endeavors that contribute to regional stability and strategic alignment.

“A MTT is formed specifically with air advisors based on their capabilities as subject matter experts in their respective career fields and based on their knowledge proficiency with the host nation’s native language."
Capt Christian Castro, 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron Guatemala MTT commander

A real-world example of how security cooperation has benefited a partner nation is when 571st MSAS trains another nation’s military working dogs and their handlers to increase their capability in seizing illegal drugs and narcotics within their own country.

According to a news story on Dialogo Americas' website, another real-world example is when the 571 MSAS team provided modular airborne firefighting systems and training to the Colombian Air Force, which enabled them to drop fire retardant from their C-130 Hercules aircraft when stopping wildfires.

“The U.S. benefits from security cooperation with partner nations through enhanced collective security, shared intelligence, diplomatic leverage, economic stability and the ability to address global challenges collaboratively,” Morgan said. “This cooperation strengthens alliances, contributes to regional stability, and supports U.S. interests in countering terrorism, promoting peace, and ensuring a secure international environment.”

One of USSOUTHCOM’s lines of effort is strengthening partnerships and is vital to hemispheric security, prosperity and meeting an array of complex security challenges.

To accomplish this, the 571st MSAS historically has been aligned with the entirety of the USSOUTHCOM area of responsibility (AOR), which encompasses 31 countries and 12 dependencies/areas of special sovereignty. The specific land mass AOR would be Central and South America and the water AOR would be adjacent to those two continents to include the Caribbean Sea.

However, a significant transformation is underway within the USAF air advisor enterprise.

Rapp emphasized as the global demand increases for air advisors, the 571 MSAS’ mission reach has expanded beyond the USSOUTHCOM AOR, into the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command AOR. This evolution encompasses not only the continuation of security cooperation missions, but also the enhancement of unit capabilities for engagements across the range of military operations, including crisis and large-scale conflict situations.

“As we observe how the world is changing and look into the future, it is paramount for the U.S. and its partners to have a robust and reliable network between hemispheric partners,” Rapp said. “The threats of transnational criminal organizations and climate change, among others, increasingly threaten global peace and stability, by creating crises in natural disasters, political and economic insecurity and migration. By strengthening these partnerships, we, not only strive to improve regional security, but also, set the foundation for future responses to regional crises if and when they happen.”

Strengthening partnerships is accomplished in many ways: providing security assets, humanitarian assistance, foreign disaster relief, promoting respect for human rights and other avenues.

“It’s an honor working with our partners in Guatemala, this is the continuation of a strong collaboration between like-minded people, and we also have a shared commitment to meeting our common goals,” Staff Sgt. Dylan Sanchez, a 571st MSAS Guatemala MTT instructor said. “The people of the Guatemalan Air Force are hardworking and dedicated to making a positive impact in their country and that is apparent to everyone on our team. It’s a privilege to work alongside our Guatemalan counterparts and continue to build a better future together.” 

To overcome future challenges, air advisors will continue to play a vital part in furthering partnership capacity with partner nations around the world. Not only for deterrence but also simultaneously strengthening and solidifying the U.S. global position as a superpower.