CAMPO GRANDE, Brazil – One hundred and five New York Air National Guard members participated in the fifth annual Brazilian Joint Exercise TAPIO Aug. 20-31.
The joint exercise simulated war scenarios, including helicopter infiltration and extrication, rescues that required a rope to access the patient, separated survivor scenarios, and an urban operation with a vehicle extrication and mass casualty event.
The main element of the exercise from New York was the 106th Rescue Wing deploying air assets and personnel to conduct combat search and rescue and close air support operations.
The exercise concluded with a Distinguished Visitors Day where the aircrews flew Brazilians and 106th pararescue Airmen during an infiltration mission.
During the final event, the Brazilians and Americans proved their ability to trust each other’s aircraft and tactical practices.
The overall goal was to promote mutual understanding, trust and interoperability and increase the capacity of the American and Brazilian Armed Forces.
“It’s great to be here for the second year. The relationships and the overall size of the event have grown over the years,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Jeff Cannet, the 106th Operations Group commander.
“But also, both professionally and personally, the relationships have grown. We are looking forward to our partnership growing even more in the future.”
The 106th, stationed at Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach on Long Island, brought one HC-130J Combat King II search and rescue aircraft and three HH-60 Pave Hawk search and rescue helicopters.
The New York’s 105th Airlift Wing, based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, provided transportation with two C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft.
Among the group of Airmen were also 29 maintainers who worked around the clock to provide day-to-day repairs, inspections and safety for all the aircraft at the wing and would spend their final days getting the aircraft ready for the flights back to New York.
“The Airmen have mastered a tight balancing act; they worked 18-hour days and were typically the first to come into work and the last to leave,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Amaturo Dominic, 106th Rescue Wing maintenance officer. “This entire mission, they have maintained a great positive attitude and enjoyed working with their Brazilian military counterpart.”
This exercise was the latest event in a relationship the New York Air National Guard and the Brazilian Air Force began building in 2019 under the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program.
“This exercise has been a great experience for our Air Force personnel to conduct combat search and rescue and close air support operations alongside the Brazilian forces. But also, seeing our maintainers utilizing their different skill sets and experience and working incredibly hard to make this mission a success and to safely be able to fix our aircraft to support this exercise,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Denise Donnell, the commander of the New York Air National Guard.
The exercise was designed to improve the ability of the American and Brazilian aircrews to work together and achieve practical solutions to reach regional and global security objectives.
To make the tactical environment on the ground more realistic, participants carried weapons that fired simulated munitions.
“The strong relationships between our countries are continually based on mutual respect and experience we can teach each other. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been able to execute countless key leader engagements and exercises,” said U.S. Army Brig Gen. Isabel Smith, the New York National Guard director of Joint Staff.
She said she spoke with the minister of defense for Brazil, who indicated “that together we can continue to build a partnership between Brazil and the United States.”
The State Partnership Program has been an innovative, cost-effective program that supports Combatant Command, U.S. embassies, and partner nation objectives but also builds defense capability and capacity and fosters enduring and personal relationships.