NATAL AIR BASE, Brazil: More than 145 Colorado Air National Guard Airmen are taking part in the fifth annual Brazilian-led exercise CRUZEX, in Natal, Brazil, Nov. 8 through Nov. 18.
CRUZEX V, or Cruzeiro Do Sul (Southern Cross), is a multinational, combined exercise involving the air forces of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, France and Uruguay and includes more than 82 aircraft and almost 3,000 Airmen. Observers from several other countries also are there.
To support the exercise, Air Guardsmen from the 140th Wing at Buckley Field, Colo., deployed to maintain, plan and fly sorties of six F-16 Fighting Falcons alongside their multi-national counterparts.
“It has been terrific working with the other forces,” said Brig. Gen. Trulan A. Eyre, the 140th Wg commander and exercise co-director. “We are all working together and we have enjoyed every minute of it.”
The two-week exercise focuses on building strong partnerships with airmen from across Latin America and France while ensuring they are prepared to assist the international community as part of UN-type coalition efforts.
“It is about partnership building,” General Eyre said. “A unique aspect of the Air National Guard is that we have partnerships all around the world. It is an absolutely fascinating opportunity for the (140th Wg) to expound our horizons a little bit beyond our partners of Slovenia and Jordan and deploy to Brazil.”
He said the most important aspect of the deployment is the opportunity for U.S. Airmen to meet others from around the world.
“(The airmen from the different countries) have done stuff that we have never done before, and we have done stuff that they have never done before, so we can share those experiences and learn better techniques to accomplish our unique missions,” General Eyre said. “Any time you get to work with coalition partners, it is a great time to learn from them. However, we aren’t down here to teach, although we will when we are called upon to do so. We are down here to learn.”
This learning and sharing of ideas built and solidified bonds between the participating countries, opening communication channels that didn’t exist before, General Eyre said.
“We now have personal contacts with the participating countries,” he said. “If another partner country is in need, we now have face-to-face contacts with (representatives) from these countries, people who we may ask for help or who may ask us for help. We now have the type of partnership that whatever is needed, we will be there to support each other.”
The general also expressed his gratitude that 140th Wg Airmen were able participate in the exercise.
“The host-nation hospitality has been wonderful,” he said. “We appreciate being asked to participate in this exercise, and we would very much like to participate in future exercises.”
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