US Army, November 08, 2013 - ARMY AVIATION SUPPORT FACILITY, Austin, Texas by Capt. Adam Musil, 36th Infantry Division (TXARNG) - On the final day of the annual U.S. and Chilean army staff talks, Chilean Officers met with leaders of the Texas Military Forces, here, to discuss aviation strategies and operations.
The strategic planning conference was hosted by the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade and provided Chilean leadership the opportunity to evaluate current Army aviation helicopters as well as get an inside perspective on various counter drug operations, to include the southwest border mission.
Lt. Col. Ricardo Santander, Chilean army, operations officer, has worked with the Texas Military Forces on multiple occasions and believes the domestic aviation operations of the Chilean army and Texas National Guard is similar. On this trip, he hopes to learn more than just new tactics, techniques and procedures.
"One of my goals is to find the Chilean army some new helicopters," Santander said. "The walkthrough of helicopters by the Texas Military Forces has been very helpful with this. We have many transport helicopters, but are looking to add attack helicopters."
Among the equipment on display was the UH-72 Lakota, which provides an aerial platform equipped with visual and infrared cameras and high-powered searchlights capable of providing an "eye in the sky." Chief Warrant Officer Braden Briggs, UH-72 Lakota pilot, 36th Combat Aviation Brigade, Texas Army National Guard, further briefed the Chileans on the differences between operating inside the state of Texas and overseas in a combat environment.
"The state partnership program between the Texas Military Forces and the Chilean army is very important when you start talking about domestic operations and border strategies. Meetings like this are a good way to exchange ideas and maintain a good working relationship with our allies," Briggs said.
Santander believes Chilean aviators are more than capable of protecting their homeland, but says the Chilean's can learn a great deal from Texas aviators' combat experience.
"We conduct a lot of our training in northern Chile. The area is very cold and mountainous much like Afghanistan. It provides excellent training opportunities for Chilean and U.S. forces," said Santander.
Over the past few years, Santander has trained with Texas National Guard Special Forces Operators on multiple occasions. Early next year, members of the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade will travel to Chile for a joint aviation exercise.
The U.S. and Chilean army staff talks are an annual event hosted by U.S. Army South. The event provides for bilateral staff talks between the Chilean army and U.S. Army staff. The program seeks to promote bilateral efforts for peace and stability in Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
Chile is a key player in enhancing security in the region. The U.S. Army believes highly in the capability of Chilean military and feels the military serves as a model of professionalism in the region.
The Chilean army is a partnered nation with the Texas Military Forces as part of the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program. The Texas Military Forces is also partnered with the Army of the Czech Republic.