NY Air National Guard teams up with Brazilian Airmen during Exercise Tapio 2021

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  • By Staff Sgt. Daniel Farrell

WESTHAMPTON BEACH, N.Y.-Eighty New York Air National Guard Airmen participated in a ten-day long Brazilian Air Force training operation at Campo Grande Brazil in August as part of the New York National Guard’s State Partnership Program relationship with the Brazilian military.

The 105th Airlift Wing, based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, transported two HH-60 Pave Hawk rescue helicopters and 57 personnel to and from the Brazilian Air Force Base at Campo Grande in the southern Brazilian state of Mato Grosso in two C-17s.

The Airmen left on August 19 and returned to New York on August 31.

The bulk of the 80 personnel were 47 Airmen from the 106th Rescue Wing’s 101st Rescue Squadron, which operates the HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters, and the 103rd Rescue Squadron, which is manned by pararescue Airmen.

The 106th is based at F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach on Long Island.

Joint Tactical Air Controllers from the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron, which is based at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, were also part of the mission.

Exercise Tapio 2021 was search and rescue exercise designed so military organizations could train together and share experiences and best practices for combat search and rescue, according to Lt. Col. Chris Baker, the commander of the 103rd Rescue Squadron and the exercise project officer.

The joint exercise simulated war scenarios, to include helicopter infiltration and extrication, rescues which required a rope to access the patient, separated survivor scenarios, and an urban operation with a vehicle extrication and mass casualty event, he said.

The exercise was the latest event in a relationship that the New York Air National Guard and the Brazilian Air Force started building in 2019, Baker said. Airmen from the 106th were part of a delegation which traveled to Brazil and took part in classroom work sessions and briefings on structure and rescue, he said.

During the training, the Brazilians and Americans got the chance to familiarize with each other’s aircraft and tactical practices.

In one mission the American Aircrews flew both Brazilians and 106th Rescue Wing pararescue Airmen during an infiltration mission.

The American and Brazilian aircrews also practiced flying together on missions.

The tactical air control parties from the Unit Here also got a chance to work with Brazilian Airmen to call in simulated missions.

The tactical environment on the ground was made more realistic by the use of simulated munitions said Tech Sgt. Dylan Crawford, a 103rd Rescue Squadron pararescueman and team leader during the exercise.

Exercise participants carried weapons firing simulated munitions similar to those used in Airsoft gun, he explained.

In fact, the Brazilian Air Force contracted with a professional Brazilian airsoft team skilled in urban combat simulation to act as firing aggressors, Crawford said. This added to the challenge as 106th pararescuemen provided tactical combat causality care.

Training together in a simulated combat environment gave both Brazilians and Americans the chance to get to know each other better explained Col. Jeff Cannet, the 106th Rescue Wing Operations Group Commander who served as the exercise mission commander.

“Do we speak the same language? Not English versus Portuguese - what I mean is operational language,” he explained.

“Do they do the same maneuvers we do? Do they clear rooms the same way we do? Do they hoist and hover the way our Jollies (helicopters) do? What do we need to establish as rules of engagement and standard operational procedures to keep everybody safe and on the same page?” Cannet said.

“They were ready to execute…it’s a partnership and a relationship I can see blooming over time. I think there’s a lot of value in that,” Cannet said.