DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB, Ariz. — Five members from the Honduran air force teamed up with 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) and the 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron for a subject matter expert exchange from Aug. 16-22, 2015.
The exchange focused primarily on a variety of nondestructive inspections lab processes.
“The NDI lab helps to ensure the structural integrity of the aircraft is maintained by unobtrusively looking for issues within the aircraft,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Leandrea Walker, 355th EMS NDI lab superintendent.
“By identifying microscopic defects in the aircraft we can prevent catastrophic events, like aircraft crashes, from occurring,” added U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Diana Dunn, 355th EMS NDI lab assistant superintendent.
According to the U.S. Air Force Nondestructive Inspection Office, NDI labs use a range of different processes to find flaws within air and space equipment without causing damage to the equipment itself. Some of the processes that the 355th EMS NDI team covered were the use of eddy currents, magnetic particles, penetrants, ultrasonic testing, and radiographic abilities to discover defects in a variety of different materials.
“This exchange has given us clear ideas of how to implement the different NDI processes in order to establish and uphold an acceptable maintenance program,” said Honduran air force Master Sgt. Josué Molina.
Along with going over the processes of discovering defects, the 355th EMS NDI team also stressed the importance of safety in the work center.
“The biggest thing that I’ve learned during this exchange is the importance that is given to the safety of personnel on the job and how critical it is to maintain an organized facility,” added Molina.
Maintaining an enforceable safety standard is critical to ensuring a productive work environment.
“This exchange is important because it focuses on safety and emphasizes the importance of knowing and understanding industry hazards,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Roberto Vasquez, superintendent of 12th AF (AFSOUTH) Plans, Requirements, and Programs section. “These are issues that need to be communicated to their leadership so the Honduran air force can safely perform these tasks and stand up their own NDI process.”
Safety in the work center is one of the top priorities for the U.S. Air Force. According to the Air Force Safety Center, the Air Force Ground Safety Division manages safety standards and interprets Department of Labor and industry standards for implementation throughout the Air Force. It is also responsible for the development as well as oversees ground safety policy, programs and procedures to provide a safe work environment to help maintain combat capability and readiness.
Subject matter expert exchanges like NDI exchange provide useful information that is helpful to the leaders within U.S. Southern Command’s partner nations.
“Exchanges like this help provide a large amount of information between these two groups of experts,” said Honduran air force Sgt. Jose Lopez. “This is providing our subject matter experts with the information they need to approach their leadership and make recommendations to improve their work center.”
Working hand in hand with USSOUTHCOM partner nations, such as Honduras, helps solidify relationships and allows us to work as one team with the shared goal of increasing inter-operability.
As part of USSOUTHCOM, 12th AF (AFSOUTH) is prepared to conduct joint and combined full-spectrum military operations within the USSOUTHCOM area of responsibility, in order to support U.S. national security objectives and interagency efforts that promote regional security cooperation.
“By helping our partner nations build themselves up, we are helping them become more independent and as a result increase our inter-operability so we are able to train and execute future missions together,” said Vasquez.
Building up USSOUTHCOM partner nation capacity is an integral part of 12th AF (AFSOUTH) missions.
According to USSOUTHCOM, bilateral exchanges with partner nations improve staff planning and operations, promote interoperability, and support national security objectives. Educational programs help ensure USSOUTHCOM and partner nations are better prepared to respond to shared security challenges posed by transnational organized crime, terrorism, and natural disasters.