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"Buddy Wing" program combines training skills


Release Date: 3/8/2004

Story by HQMC Public Affairs

By Staff Sgt. A.J. Bosker 51st Fighter Wing Public affairs

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Three 25th Fighter Squadron A-10 pilots, 10 25th Aircraft Maintenance Unit maintainers and five 51st Security Forces Squadron members took part in 7th Air Force's "Buddy Wing" program in late February.

These Team Osan members deployed to the Republic of Korea Air Force's Wonju Air Base for combined training with the ROKAF's 238th Tactical Fighter Squadron. "The 'Buddy Wing' program is a great opportunity to foster teamwork and gives the (participants) a better understanding of our combined capability," said Lt. Col. Thomas Deale, 25th Fighter Squadron commander.

This latest exercise with the 25th FS and 238th TFS focused on forward air control and coordinating command and control of multinational forces, Colonel Deale said. The Americans and Koreans traded off directing each other's forces on different days to give everyone involved the command and control experiences.

The "Buddy Wing" program also functions as a cultural exchange, he added.

"This not only benefits each squadron as far as exchanging tactics but also allows for us to be more comfortable working with each other which pays off big dividends," said Maj. Michael Schultz, 25th FS. "We know what to expect out of the other."

"I thought this was an excellent learning experience," said 1st Lt. David Heinitz, 25th FS. "Often times we develop opinions about others that aren't based upon (facts). It was good to meet (our ROKAF counterparts), spend time with them and come away with our own opinions based on our (interaction)."

Lieutenant Heinitz also credits the program for giving him a better understanding of the ROKAF squadron's tactics and how it would employ aircraft in a strike capacity if a crisis or contingency should ever arise.

Colonel Deale believes the "Buddy Wing" program is very beneficial and gives everyone involved unique insights into combined operations.

"The experience is invaluable," Major Schultz agrees. "It (gave) us insight into how the other side operates and that means putting bombs on target on time with greater efficiency." "Buddy Wing" program participation isn't limited to the 25th FS and their close air support ROKAF counterparts in the 238th TFS, Colonel Deale said.

"All 7th Air Force flying squadrons participate in the program," he explained. "They are matched up with a ROKAF squadron that has the same primary mission."

The result, according to Colonel Deale is that the "51st Fighter Wing is more ready to fight tonight alongside our ROK allies." (Courtesy of Pacific Air Forces News Service)

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