36th Tactical Advisory Squadron conduct training with Timor-Leste air component

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  • By Courtesy Story
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs

BAUCAU & DILI, TIMOR-LESTE - A mobile training team led by U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 36th Tactical Advisory Squadron conducted comprehensive airfield operations training for the Falintil - Forcas de Defesa de Timor-Leste (F-FDTL) air component Airmen in Baucau and Dili, Timor-Leste, June 19-30, 2023.

The training encompassed essential airfield operation areas such as fire protection, vehicle maintenance, aircraft refueling and security measures to support maritime security intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.

The program provided a valuable opportunity for air advisors and subject matter experts from multiple functional areas, squadrons and commands to collaborate and enhance the airfield operations and ISR capabilities of the F-FDTL air component. Notably, this training coincided with the official handover of a Cessna Stationair Turbo 206 aircraft from the U.S. government to the Timor-Leste military, marking a significant milestone as the country's first military air asset. The transfer included a comprehensive equipment package comprising aircraft refueling vehicles, airfield security equipment, patrol vehicles, vehicle maintenance tools, a firetruck and recurring training events to ensure proficiency with the equipment.

Reflecting on the progress made, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Mark Hoover, air advisor team sergeant from the 36 TAS, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, remarked, "It's amazing to see this progression."

Hoover, who had previously surveyed the Baucau Airport in 2018, played an instrumental role in establishing what is now the F-FDTL's first airbase and the new home for the Cessna. Over the years, collaborative efforts involving U.S. Air Force Civil Engineers and U.S. Navy Seabees have improved the airfield through various construction projects leading up to the transfer of the aircraft and equipment, as well as the subsequent training provided by the U.S. team. Additional airfield projects and training initiatives are planned for the future.

Baucau Airbase, the Cessna Stationair Turbo 206 aircraft, the accompanying support equipment and the trained F-FDTL Airmen significantly enhance Timor-Leste's maritime surveillance capabilities. These assets play a crucial role in safeguarding territorial waters and protecting vital maritime resources. Furthermore, the aircraft's ability to rapidly respond to natural disasters and support efficient relief efforts during critical times will prove invaluable.

During the training, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher Johnson, a craftsman firefighter from the 354th Civil Engineering Squadron, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, provided comprehensive training on firefighting techniques and tactics to F-FDTL's Baucau firefighters.

Reflecting on his experience, Johnson noted, "One of the best parts of being part of this training team is seeing confidence and pride grow, and leaders emerge."

Through scenario-based hands-on training, F-FDTL members gained confidence in their abilities and showcased their decision-making skills during dynamic simulated events. The profound lesson instilled by Johnson and his team mirrored the U.S. Air Force principles of airpower, centralized command and decentralized execution.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Gabriella Marrufo, an intelligence officer and air advisor from the 36 TAS, conducted interviews with key F-FDTL aviation leaders, including the air liaison officer, and toured the military joint operations center.

"This mission provides my team an excellent opportunity to see, first-hand, the F-FDTL's ISR processes and help design and develop future training events and operating procedures to maximize their data collection, processing, dissemination, and exploitation capabilities," Marrufo expressed.

These engagements, mobile training teams, along with formal training courses in the U.S., serve to share aviation enterprise expertise and resources, reinforcing the U.S. and Timor-Leste partnership and its commitment to safeguarding the country's sovereignty, security and prosperity.