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NY Air Guardsmen conduct combat search and rescue training in Brazil

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sarah McKernan
  • 106th Rescue Wing

One hundred New York National Guard Airmen spent August 16 to 27 in Campo Grande, Brazil conducting combat search and rescue exercises with their Brazilian Air Force counterparts.

The Airmen, most of whom are assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing, conducted missions simulating the recovery of downed aircrew, conducted aerial refueling of search and rescue helicopters, trained Brazilian parachute rescue personnel, and conducted on the ground security exercises.

This was the third year the New York Airmen took part in Brazil’s annual search and rescue training known as Exercise Tapio as part of the New York National Guard’s State Partnership Program relationship with Brazil’s military.

“It was a great experience training with the Brazilian Air Force during Tapio,” said Senior Airman Eury Villalona-Taveras, a security forces airman with the 106th Rescue Wing.

The American security forces airmen conducted a variety of ground security missions together with the Brazilians, he said.

“By the end of the exercise, we were able to exchange ideas, experiences and made a lot of long-lasting friendships and relationships,” he said.

The joint training and exchanges furthers interoperability between the U.S. military and Brazilians, according to Col. Jeff Cannet, the commander of the 106th Operations Group, who led the mission.

“When we come into each other’s areas, we can work together seamlessly and help rescue people faster than we otherwise could have if we did not practice down here together,” Cannet said.

“This has been my third time as a liaison officer for the U.S. delegation on Exercise Tapio,” said 1st Lieutenant Tales Pimenta, a Brazilian Pilot with Brazilian Air Base, Campo Grande.

The relationships being built, and the effort put in while practicing with the Brazilians, and training with them will help save lives in the future, he explained.

“It’s something we are very proud of, and we have a deep connection with our partners here in Brazil who do the same thing,” Pimenta said.

New York has had a State Partnership Program relationship with Brazil since 2019 and this week-long exercise is the largest annual bilateral air exercise in the Western hemisphere, Cannet said.

The New York Air National Guard deployed two HH-60G Pave Hawk search and rescue helicopters, one HC-130J Combat King II search and rescue aircraft from the 106th Rescue Wing and two C-17 Globemaster III airlifters from the 105th Airlift Wing.

The C-17s, and 14 Airmen based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, transported the helicopters and personnel.

Eighty Airmen from the 106th Rescue Wing which included aircrews, maintenance personnel and security forces Airmen, were joined by six Airmen from the 107th Attack Wing, which flies the MQ-9 Reaper from Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

The Airmen from the 107th, which included three Airmen trained to direct airstrikes on ground targets from the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron, integrated remotely piloted aircraft into the exercise. Another two worked with pararescue Airmen from the 106th conducting search and rescue missions with the Brazilians.

The Americans helped train 40 Brazilian Para Search and Rescue personnel, known by the acronym PARASAR.

“Working alongside the Brazilian PARASAR and Air Force was a truly enlightening experience,” said Staff Sgt. John Kosequat, a pararescueman.

The American pararescuemen shared their knowledge and skills from their combat experience and domestic rescue operations with their Brazilian counterparts, he said.

“They integrated smoothly and immediately felt like part of the team”, said Kosequat.

This year, the 106th sent security forces personnel to train with their Brazilian Air Force counterparts. Air Force security forces Airmen are responsible for the security of bases and aircraft on the ground at remote location.

The Americans conducted Forward Area Refueling Point exercises with the Brazilians’. The refueling points, known as FARPS, are established to provide fuel and ordinance for aircraft when air-to-air refueling or traditional refueling options are not feasible.

The teams also conducted aircraft protection missions known as Fly Away Security, or FAS for short. They practiced protecting aircrew and aircraft in hostile environments.

106th Security personnel also taught lessons in U.S. hand-to-hand combatives training and learned Brazilian jiu-jitsu techniques in turn.
These skills are vital in denying an enemy access to an aircraft flightdeck, Kosequat explained.

The New Yorkers and Brazilians also hosted a visit from General Daniel R. Hokanson, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau.

Hokanson got a tour of the base and the Brazilian and American aircraft being employed and was briefed on the capabilities being tested during the exercise and the missions being conducted.