20th FW and Pakistani airmen reunite at Red Flag

by Airman 1st Class Daniel Phelps
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

8/11/2010 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS) -- Ina symbolic and historical event, Pakistan airmen flew six F-16Bs and100 aircrew, maintenance and support members more than 7,700 miles fromPakistan to participate in their first Red Flag and Green Flagexercises at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. in mid-July.

There, the Pakistani airmen met up with the 77th Fighter Squadron, apast U.S. training partner from the 20th Fighter Wing, at Shaw AirForce Base, S.C.

"The deployment from home base to Nellis (AFB) was an unequivocalexperience, considering the distance and the consequential use ofaerial refueling," said Pakistan Air Force Group Captain Javad Saeed,the Pakistan detachment commander.

In 2006, the U.S. Air Force and the PAF came together for an exercisein Southwest Asia, said Capt. Lisa Spilinek, the 9th Air Force and U.S.Air Forces Central media operations officer. Since then, they haveparticipated in normally scheduled exercises in that area, to improveU.S. and Pakistani interoperability and security relationships, and todemonstrate the U.S. resolve to support the security and humanitarianinterests of friends and allies in the region.

"Since that exercise, the continued engagement we have had with the PAFshows our commitment to them and how important and strategic ourrelationship is," said Col. Don Godier, the 20th FW vice commander andthe Exercise Red Flag 10-4 Air Expeditionary Wing commander.

"The spinoff of enhanced mutual respect and appreciation for oneanother is what has lead to continued engagements and up to Red Flag,"Captain Saeed added.

"The 20th FW sent the 77th (Fighter Squadron) to participate in that2006 exercise in support of the 9th Air Force engagement strategy focusand helped serve as a foundation for improving the interoperabilitybetween the two air forces," said Colonel Godier, who was also the 77thFS commander at that time. "During Red Flag 10-4, the 77th FS receivedthe opportunity to fly again with the 9th FS from Pakistan, the samesquadron they flew with in 2006, continuing the relationship."

Red Flag 10-4 gave both air forces the opportunity to learn and growfrom each other through the opportunity to understand each other betterculturally and professionally, Captain Saeed said. Both aspects arecrucial for working on common objectives.

"The PAF's participation in this world-class exercise helps to buildinternational air force cooperation, interoperability and mutualsupport," said Navy Vice Adm. Michael LeFever, the U.S. Department ofDefense representative to Pakistan. "It is also significant as both atangible and symbolic demonstration of the deepening U.S.-Pakistanstrategic relationship."

"There is definitely a history between us and the PAF," said Capt. MaxJohnson, a 77th FS F-16 pilot. "A couple of the Pakistani pilotsrecognized our patch and were asking us about a lot of the pilots from2006."

Captain Johnson said he was surprised at the lack of the cultural barrier between them.

"Originally, some of us were expecting a language barrier working with(the Pakistani airmen)," the pilot said. "But, they all knew Englishvery well. We were able to joke around with them and understand eachother's jokes."

On top of all this, Red Flag gave PAF members the unique opportunity todeploy their assets and personnel halfway around the world, CaptainSaeed said. It also helped provide them a contemporary air combattraining environment for their less experienced aircrew.

Training together with coalition forces helps with understanding andcommunication, Colonel Godier said. It helps improve the effect andefficiency as combat air forces.

"Our participation together in this exercise has been not onlyvaluable, but essential in that coalition forces are the key tosuccess," Colonel Godier said. "It has been a long process of workingtogether."


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