The exercise focused on training techniques, tactics and procedures and strengthening interoperability between the US and Colombian air forces as allies under NATO standards.
South Carolina is Colombia’s state partner in the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program and has trained with the Colombian military for 10 years.
Lt. Col. David Way, a 169th FW pilot who participated in previous Relampago exercises, said this year’s iteration offered additional training over the sea. The co-location of the Colombian and American pilots was the key to the success of this year’s exercise.
For future Relampago exercises, Way hopes organizers will “maintain the ability to train together in the same location so we can brief and debrief together. This is an integral part of relationship building between the two nations’ pilots.”
Relampago allowed American pilots to learn tactics from each other and built a basic relationship with their Colombian partners.
“Building the Relampago exercise since 2012 certainly allows us to strengthen our partnership and let us know that we are still allies and contribute to the stability of this region,” said Colombian Air Force Maj. Rommel Rodriguez, 111th Fighter Squadron commander. “Language can sometimes be a barrier, but the exercise is not just for the pilots, it’s also for maintenance and support.”
Colombian Air Force aircraft maintainers closely observed their American counterparts during their two weeks together, learning everything from ramp operations to safety equipment while facilitating a productive and comfortable stay for the American airmen.
“My mission for these two weeks is to stay with them all the time, to make all the efforts so that they can complete the mission,” said the Colombian air force captain. William Quintero, Maintenance Planning Manager.
Quintero was the Colombian Air Force liaison for the 169th FW’s maintenance personnel and facilitated their stay at his base, getting them ready for a successful two-week stay during the exercise. The mission of keeping eight fighters airworthy far from home required planning, execution and cooperation from Colombia.
“The moment we showed up at the hangar, Captain Quintero was open-handed and got us everything we needed,” said Chief Master Sgt. Wayne Peelman, 169th Maintenance Group. “He has made our mission, from the maintenance side, completely successful.”