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Cooperation Team-One exchanges ideas with Chilean air force members

by Capt Nathan D. Broshear
Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs

10/20/2009 - SANTIAGO, Chile (AFNS) -- Members of 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) and the Texas Air National Guard completed four days of subject matter exchanges in Santiago, Chile, with members of the Fuerza Aerea Chile, or FACh, on topics such as crisis management, media relations and Air Operations Center processes and procedures.

The exchange was a prelude to Exercise Salitre, a multi-national humanitarian and air operations exercise aimed at increasing the cooperation between airmen from Chile, Brazil, Argentina, France and the U.S.

"Our team was here to provide case studies, best practices and ideas with members of the FACh at their air war college, with embassy public affairs teams and with local public relations firms," said Mr. Dana Willis, the Cooperation Team-One director and AFSOUTH Theatre Engagement Team member. "Our Airmen were able to learn about the differences, and similarities, between our air forces while exchanging ideas on how we can both improve our processes."

The team began their CT-1 exchange by reaching out to local citizens, sponsoring at-risk children from the Centro Comunitario Angels, or 'Angels Community Center'. They visited a local interactive museum just hours after landing.

"It was a long flight for the team, but they felt it was important to give back to the people of Chile who have always been such gracious hosts to our Airmen," said Mr. Willis.

The team then began sharing briefings, pamphlets and experiences with leaders in the FACh. Maj. Jana Nyerges and Capt Rick Glade, Air Operations Center experts from Air Forces Southern, briefed AOC processes and procuedures with members of the FACh, including a class at the Chilean Air War College. Public affairs staff members also led a discussion on strategic communications, crisis management and PA tips for future commanders. Students stayed long after the class to ask questions and share their own stories with the Airmen.

Later, part of the team briefed senior FACh officers, while the PA team met with U.S. Embassy Chile representatives and executives from Extend, a local public relations firm. The Extend executives shared their thoughts on crisis communications and offered the Airmen case studies on the topic. The differences between U.S. and Latin American media were of strong interest to both parties as the communicators sought to practice their craft in line with local norms. They also shared ideas on how military PA teams react to events they've had to deal with for their clients such as casualties, plane crashes and noise complaints around airfields.

The Airmen and their civilian counterparts quickly found common ground and by the end of the meeting the group was brainstorming ideas to work together in the future, said Capt. Randy Saldivar, a public affairs officer from the Texas Air National Guard.

"This was truly a two-way exchange," said Capt. Saldivar. "Texas has strong ties to Chile and the FACh as participants in the State Partnership Program between our militaries. We were able to share some of our ideas, but also to learn a different approach to common problems, with the goal of coming to the same positive outcomes."

The CT-1 members continued their exchanges in Antofagasta, Chile, as they transitioned to supporting exercise SALITRE with the Chilean air force over the weekend.

For Airmen, the event proved a valuable step in their professional development.

"CT-1 exchanges like the one we conducted this week are vital in making our air services better," Capt. Saldivar said. "You can never stop learning. Together, we're stronger, more informed and capable Airmen."

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