Science and Technology News

Thursday, June 24, 2010

13th AF hosts international engineering exchange summit

by Tech. Sgt. Kerry Jackson
13th Air Force Public Affairs

6/24/2010 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR HICKAM, Hawaii (AFNS) -- The 13th Air Force hosted seven civil engineers from countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region during a subject matter expert exchange summit called Pacific Unity here June 3 through 17.

The summit is a joint and combined military information-sharing forum that provides mid-level officers from regional Asia-Pacific partner nations the oppourtunity to exchange views, tour U.S. military facilities and programs, and establish international and interpersonal relationships.

The goal of the exchange is to enhance regional partnerships and promote interoperability between U.S. forces and partner nations, officials said.

"This exchange provides us a rare opportunity to showcase our civil engineering mission to countries in the Asia-Pacific region," said Capt. Michael Crosse, the 13th Air Force chief of the civil engineer division. "The forum not only allowed our counterparts to learn how we respond to a wide-range of installation and contingency operations, but we learned a lot about how they operate and respond to various needs in their countries. It was just a great experience from start to finish."

The exchange included officers from Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand and focused on emergency management preparation, disaster response, fire prevention, confined spaces, search and rescue, and general contingency engineering tactics.

The participants visited several locations throughout the United States, including Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

During their visit to Fort Leonard Wood Army post, the 366th Training Squadron, Detachment 7, shared info about emergency management, mapping and surveying, and operating heavy equipment. The group also participated in a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive demonstration, and had the chance to don protective gear and process through a contamination control area using simulated chemicals. In addition, the delegates learned how the U.S. military conducts pavement operations, focusing on design, construction, evaluation, operations, and repair and maintenance of airfield pavements.

"The delegates learned about our mission from a host of technical experts that have a unique blend of experience, education and training that I believe made their visit worthwhile," Captain Crosse said. "It provided an up-close and personal view of our mission, as well as an opportunity to interact with the people who make the mission possible, and that experience you can't capture through reading a book."

At Goodfellow AFB, the participants had an opportunity to visit the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy, where they took part in aircraft and structural firefighting demonstrations and learned about advanced hazardous material response, confined spaces, and search and rescue procedures.

During the delegates' visit to the Academy, they toured the school's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, where they observed academy students in the Field Engineering Readiness Lab conducting mock deployments designed to allow students to perform hands-on training in surveying, construction methods and using various construction materials.

"It was very good to see the realistic training the U.S. military is conducting, and we found a lot of things we can implement back home in our countries," said Bangladesh Air Force Group Captain Salamat Ullah. "It will strengthen our joint ability to combat emergencies."

More than 60 U.S. military service members, including a team of civil engineers, recently concluded humanitarian medical and civil engineering efforts in Bangladesh as part of Operation Pacific Angel, a joint and combined humanitarian assistance operation aimed at improving military civic cooperation between the United States and countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition to learning how U.S. forces use civil engineering techniques to respond to emergencies, many of the participants were happy about the opportunity to work alongside other civil engineers from the Asia-Pacific region.

"We're so happy because of the rare opportunity to have this multi-lateral exchange," said Philippine Air Force Colonel Manuel Victorino Ramiro. "It was a great opportunity to meet officers from other countries to learn about different cultures and to share our experience with one another to enhance our knowledge on engineering matters."

"The facilities that we saw really amazed us, especially the equipment and the classrooms, which were very conducive for us to learn," Colonel Ramiro said. "We have learned so much and we treasure all the things we learned in this country."

All of the participants expressed how impressed they were with servicemembers, especially the integral role of the NCO Corps in military operations.

"I was clearly impressed with the NCO Corps," said Royal Thai Air Force Group Captain Chalee Watanawanna. "They are really the backbone of the U.S. military and play a much different role from our NCO Corps."

The civil engineering community has conducted SMEEs for more than 40 years as their responsibilities have grown in number and complexity with more subject matter experts participating in exchanges to share the depth of knowledge required in specific areas.

The 13th Air Force is scheduled to host two additional engineering SMEEs in July and August.

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