One Under the Belt

Air Forces Southern’s first Operation Southern Partner, a focused series of subject-matter exchanges and partnership-building exercises with air forces in Latin America, concludes today after 12 days of activities. More than 70 US airmen made the trip to South America Oct. 26 to work alongside members of the air forces of Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Activities included discussions on base security with Chilean airmen outside of Santiago Oct. 29, on aircraft maintenance with Argentinean airmen Oct. 31 in Buenos Aires, and on medical disaster response with Argentinean and Uruguayan military medics Nov. 3 in Montevideo. There was also a high-altitude, low-opening air drop exercise with US and Chilean rescue airmen Oct. 30 over Iquique AB, Chile. And the US airmen and their partners conducted more than 10 outreach and community relations projects. “This has been a fabulous experience,” Lt. Col. Meleah Whetstone, a Reserve nurse form Nellis AFB, Nev. She continued, “I am really proud to be in the Air Force and I’m proud to be a US citizen. But coming down here to South America to exchange ideas and learn from each other about disaster response benefits everyone.” AFSOUTH officials say they intend to hold Southern Partner periodically, with the next iteration planned for next spring. (For more about Southern Partner, click here.)