PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
Story by: Senior Airman De'Jon Williams
136th Airlift Wing (Texas Air National Guard)
PRAGUE - Airmen from Texas and Nebraska Air National Guard units partnered with the Czech Air Force to participate in a subject matter expert exchange of maintenance information March 20-23, 2017, at air bases in the Czech Republic.
The maintenance exchange was part of a state partnership program between the Texas and Nebraska Air National Guards and the Czech Republic coordinated by Maj. Mark White, bilateral affairs officer, U.S. Embassy-Prague, Texas Army National Guard.
"Having the ability to have Airmen from across multiple airframes share their experiences and best practices is something that the Czech Air Force really appreciated and valued," said White. "You could see the dialog and discussion evolving with detailed questions. I was very happy with the level of information and the vast experience that the Airmen were able to share with their Czech partners."
The state partnership program has been in place since 1993 with a multitude of military exchanges and familiarization over the course of its existence. However, it had been many years since a dedicated Air Force maintenance exchange had taken place.
"I think it's very important to obtain a relationship with our sister units to exchange ideas and practices, said Tech. Sgt. Jarrett Patman, a crew chief with the 136th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "I feel this exchange can benefit our unit in that we can learn from the way that their cargo base runs and I hope to gain knowledge to take back to Fort Worth and implement within our squadron."
The Airmen traveled to the three Czech Air Force bases, each with different aircraft, to discuss maintenance topics such as front shop, back shop and all levels of maintenance planning.
"As a maintenance systems subject matter expert, my goal was to describe to the Czech Air Force how we do our maintenance practices back in Nebraska, help and promote some new ideas, as well as exchange ideas from them and their maintenance practices that we might be able to utilize back in the states," said Master Sgt. Corey Wacker, 155th Air Refueling Wing maintenance management analyst, Nebraska Air National Guard. "The overall goal was to gain knowledge and a better understanding of how maintenance and military operations go in their country."
There have been multiple pilot exchanges, but never ones including maintenance or munitions. Both of these units are integral elements for mission success and were necessary additions for the benefit of the program.
"My role specifically was just to show them how we do it in the fighter world," said 1st Lt. Tyson Cannon, 149th Fighter Wing maintenance operations officer, Texas Air National Guard. "I brought a few slides to show our daily maintenance production meetings. I gave them a little insight into how we separate different shop sections, prioritize work operations and how we do our daily maintenance procedures."
The state partnership has been in place for over 24 years between the Czech Republic, the Texas National Guard and the Nebraska Air National Guard. Many military engagements have been conducted during this partnership, and with nearly 30 more exchanges covering the numerous mission sets within the military, planned this year, the states continue to build an enduring relationship with their Czech counterparts.