Capts. Aaron Cavazos and David Nagle, A-10 weapons officers assigned to the 355th Fighter Wing, recently returned from their second mobile training team (MTT) event this year with the Colombian Air Force (COLAF) to prepare for their participation in Exercise ANGEL THUNDER.
During their trip, Cavazos and Nagle worked with the COLAF to help develop exercise plans incorporating combat search and rescue tactics, and close air support tactics. This is the third year Colombia is participating in the combat search and rescue training, and it will be the first year Colombia participates in close air support roles.
Last year, Colombia participated in Exercise ANGEL THUNDER utilizing their C-130 Hercules aircraft, primarily for cargo and personnel transport. This year Colombia will bring their A-29 Super Tucano which is used for close air support missions, in addition to the C-130 and Bell 212 helicopter.
“With this being the first year that Colombia is using attack fixed wing aircraft platforms, we helped spin them up for the exercise,” said Cavazos.
“By training with them in their own country, we are able to teach techniques in comfortable surroundings. And helps us prepare for the combat search and rescue missions we will encounter during Exercise ANGEL THUNDER,” added Nagle.
The lessons learned during the training event are procedures the Colombian air force can incorporate into their everyday missions.
Combat search and rescue involves the rescue of an individual from a hostile environment. During Exercise ANGEL THUNDER, close air support participants will train in suppressing enemy fire and keeping adversaries from capturing additional resources and aircraft.
Cavazos and Nagle will be returning to Colombia in April to continue training prior to the start of ANGEL THUNDER.
“This is an ongoing effort that is just another example of the close ties between our nations. AFSOUTH has been sending people to train with Colombia for years and will continue to send people after us, to strengthen the relationship between our two countries,” said Cavazos.
ANGEL THUNDER is the largest and most realistic joint service, multinational, interagency combat search and rescue exercise in the world. ANGEL THUNDER uses a variety of scenarios to simulate deployment conditions and contingencies to provide personnel recovery and combat search and rescue training for combat aircrews, pararescue, intelligence personnel, battle managers and joint search and rescue center personnel.
The exercise will be conducted May 4-17 and will execute training scenarios from Davis-Monthan AFB, to the Pacific Ocean off of the coast of California.