KURMITOLA AIR BASE, BANGLADESH — U.S. Airmen from Yokota Air Base, Japan, wrapped up four days of training with their Bangladesh Air Force counterparts as exercise Cope South 10 came to an end, Sept. 23.
More than 40 U.S. Airmen and two C-130 Hercules aircraft came to the Asian nation to train with their Air Force to better respond to regional disasters. The exercise focused on tactical airlift operations with the Bangladesh AN-32 aircraft.
Building up the relationship between the two countries was the theme of Cope South 10. Much of that relationship building happened during exchanges between subject-matter experts in operations, maintenance, navigation and rigging disciplines.
“Their planes are older so we learned some things about the B-model C-130 while we told them about our H-model C-130,” said Tech. Sgt. Doug Harper, of the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “They’re very knowledgeable about the aircraft. They’re trying to figure out from us how to improve their aircraft. They’re very well rounded. Our work is split up into different specialties in the Air Force. They have far less groups so their maintainers do a lot more.”
One of the exercise’s objectives was to introduce Bangladesh navigators and pilots to flying missions using night vision goggles.
“The squadron commander approached me after the briefing and told me how great he thought this would cement the basics for his aircrew,” said 1st Lt. Robert Carranza, a C-130 navigator with the 36th Airlift Squadron. “They don’t fly much with night vision goggles so being able to take them up on our aircraft for observation rides showed them what their world looks like through NVGs at night.”
Bangladesh Air Force loadmasters also spent time learning how to secure cargo in a different airframe than the one they normally use.
“We went over airdrop limitations, the lengths platforms can be, the different air extraction parachutes that can be used, and our personal experiences of doing training drops,” said Staff Sgt. Jace Hartog, from the 36th AS. “They’ve done airdrops in the past, but not with a C-130. They wanted to learn from somebody that’s experienced and wanted to get hands-on application and a general knowledge base so they could start their training.”
Air crews from both nations had originally planned to conduct joint airdrops, but flooding at the drop zone prevented the training. However, the crews maximized every opportunity to learn from each other. Staff Sgt. Christopher Smith, 374 AMXS, found himself assisting Bangladesh aircraft electricians troubleshoot problems they were having with their older model C-130.
“We’re just bouncing ideas off of each other to find solutions to problems,” said Sergeant Smith.
Cope South 10 was all about continuing to strengthen our relationship with the Bangladesh Air Force, said Lt. Col. Rick Richard, 36th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander.
“Procedures and techniques were shared by both forces and I think we’ve learned quite a bit from each other,” he said. “We’ve also expanded our relationships along the way.”
Bangladesh Air Vice Marshall Abu Eshrar was also impressed by the manner in which the exercise was carried out.
“To me the most important objective we have achieved is extending the friendship, mutual cooperation and understanding between our two countries,” he said at the closing ceremony. “I’m confident all the participating team members used this opportunity to further enhance our continued relationship and that this bonding will continue to develop in the days ahead.”
At the closing ceremony Brig. Gen. Michael Keltz, Pacific Air Forces director of operations, plans and programs, called Cope South 10 the experience of a lifetime for those who participated.
“The bottom line is the relationship we have with Bangladesh is very important,” he said. “You are in a very strategic region of the world. The better we can work together and the more we understand each other, the better we can work humanitarian affairs and disaster relief.”