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US advisers begin partnership with Paraguayan air force

The 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron recently conducted rescue training with the Paraguayan air force in Asuncion, Paraguay, from Sept. 17 to 28.

The 17 air advisers, including members of the Wyoming Air National Guard and the Colorado Air Force Reserve, focused on rotary wing aircraft water survival and twin tension rope rescue techniques.

“This mission was the first time we have advised in Paraguay and I can tell the friendship and camaraderie we have built with the partner nation will be a lasting one,” said Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Wilson, the training team sergeant, in a news release.

One Paraguayan airman, Sargento Primero Alexis Araujo, explained how this training expanded their existing capabilities.

“This training was really good and something new for us,” Araujo said. “We learned new things, especially the rappelling and new ways to create an anchor point. The Stokes litter was also a very good piece of equipment we hadn’t seen before.”

Staff Sgt. Cory Ridenour served as the lead instructor for the rope rescue course.

“I learned that I may find myself training people who don’t always have the same access to equipment as we do in the U.S. Air Force,” Ridenour said. “Our team focused on teaching these students safe ways to rescue people with a high angle ropes system that is very minimal and lightweight."

“This was my focus because we could not leave them with a ton of gear to use, but instead we left them with knowledge on using what they had, and knowledge is the lightest backpack they will ever carry,” Ridenour added.

The 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron was also able to use this training to prepare one of their own fire protection personnel for future twin tension systems training missions.

“While rope rescue is a key responsibility for fire fighters, the twin tension system was new for this individual and attending this training enabled him to become familiar and increase the number of instructors from the unit qualified to teach it,” Wilson said.

The training mission, which was accomplished at four different locations throughout Paraguay, required extensive coordination by the Paraguayan Air Force liaison officer, Maj. Mario Adorno.

“It was an amazing experience and beneficial, as we now have 11 personnel capable of fulfilling the search and rescue mission,” Adorno said. “We look forward to future training and plan to ask for this course again.”

Like all international training missions, the exercise also offered the opportunity for airmen to build personal and professional relationships with service members from another country.

“It was important to build a strong relationship between the Paraguayan rescue community and ours to provide the same standard of care in case of any rescue operations or humanitarian missions,” said Tech. Sgt. Giacomo Zignago, an Air Force medical air adviser. “During this training the students proved that they were professional, willing to learn and excited to put their new knowledge into practice.”

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