Forging relationships with militaries around the globe is usually accomplished at the highest levels of government. State Department foreign service officers and top military officials, well versed in the diplomatic arena, receive specialized training on how to present themselves, conduct business and come to productive conclusions in foreign settings. So, who is Kyle Platt and why is he representing the U.S. Air Force Reserve in an international setting?
Tech. Sgt. Kyle Platt, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration technician, 452d Civil Engineer Squadron, March Air Reserve Base, Calif., was selected to represent the Air Force Reserve Command in the first Foreign Exchange program with the Royal Air Force Reserve which included participating in exercise Serpent Rise 12, from May 12 to 26.
â€œI was not the least surprised that AFRC selected him to represent our command for the very first foreign exchange program,â€ said Chief Master Sgt. Henry Hamby, operations chief, 452d CES. â€œHe will represent well and will no doubt leave the Brits wishing he could stay and be a part of their family. Heâ€™s that good.â€
The U.S. Air Force Military Personnel Exchange Program is an instrument by which the Air Force builds, sustains, and expands international relationships that are critical enablers for its Expeditionary Air and Space Force. The program allows the USAF to exchange personnel in equivalent grades and specialties with foreign nations, enhancing its ability to perform coalition operations with global partners.
Selection for the MPEP was far from luck of the draw. Interested personnel had to go through a rigorous application screening process.
â€œI had to submit a package consisting of my military resume, civilian resume, a full length profile photo, letter of recommendation from my squadron commander, group commander, wing commander, 4th Air Force commander and re-enlist for another three years,â€ said Platt.
The selection process focused on the applicantâ€™s ability to honorably represent the U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and March ARB.
â€œI was selected because of my accomplishments,â€ said Platt. â€œThe main reason I went was because they believed I would be a good ambassador for America and the Reserve. I wasnâ€™t required to display my CE skills, but was relied upon to demonstrate my leadership and organizational abilities.â€
The mission began March 12 with Plattâ€™s 5 a.m. arrival at Heathrow International Airport, United Kingdom. There, he was met and escorted to the home of the 4626th Aeromedical Squadron, RAF Lyneham, UK, the sponsoring unit. From there, the execution order was given and they received activation orders to deploy to Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Strensall, UK, an international medical training base about 300 miles north of RAF Lyneham, for the commencement of the two-week exercise.
Serpent Rise 12 included members from the 4626th AMES, 612th Aero Medevac squadron, Scotland, and the Royal Navy Reserve.
â€œUpon arrival, we were billeted and briefed on support accommodations for the exercise. Without a momentâ€™s waste, we were all handed SA80-A2 assault rifles and shuttled off to the range for a full day of weapons qualification training,â€ Platt said. â€œI was very excited to get my hands on their weapons and have the opportunity to qualify. I now hold a full weapons handling certification with the RAF.â€
The first phase of the exercise involved Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Enhanced Conventional Weapons and Force Protection training. Much to the liking of Pratt was a specialized range simulator called the Dismounted Close Combat Simulator, which allowed them to conduct computer-generated arms training in a practical and cost efficient manner.
Additional instruction consisted of Enemy Position Infiltration, Defense Positions Set-up and Lead Patrols training as well as firing a multitude of weapons, such as the M-60 general-purpose machine gun, Under-sling Grenade Launcher, squad automatic weapon and Javelin Rocket Launcher.
Phase II delved heavily into advanced medical training.
Exercise organizers designed an exact replica of Camp Bastion, an actual military hospital in Afghanistan, in which personnel conducted simulated round-robin exercises. Nine-liners, the term used for medical evacuation requests, topped the list of skills that were exercised due to their importance during wartime situations.
â€œI donâ€™t have a medical background, but I was occasionally placed in charge of a squad during patrol exercises or called upon to offer insight to the U.S. perspective during troop training exercises,â€ said Platt.
By Plattâ€™s standards, the 14-day exercise went by much too fast. But with mission complete, he whole-heartedly thanked the 4626th AMES by presenting them with a 452d Air Mobility Wing coin to commemorate the event.
Platt ended his tour with a great deal of respect for his host unit.
â€œItâ€™s amazing that they train in the same manner as we do in the U.S. and with the same intensity,â€ Platt said.
Like reservists at March, some are civilian doctors and medical technicians, yet in their other lives, they are trained combat veterans, ready to deploy at a momentâ€™s notice, Pratt said.
â€œThe success of this mission paved the way for increased activity in the Foreign Exchange Program. We (March ARB) expect to receive a member of the Royal Air Force Reserve in the very near future.â€