NEWS | March 29, 2018

Indonesia, US Service Members Learn Each Other's Cultures, Boost Readiness at Cope West 2018

By Airman 1st Class Collette Brooks 35 Fighter Wing Public Affairs

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- More than 110 U.S. Air Force Airmen from Misawa Air Base participated in the Cope West 2018 Field Training Exercise with 150 service members from the Indonesian Air Force at Manado Air Base, Indonesia, March 12 to 23.

Cope West, an annual U.S. Pacific Air Forces-sponsored exercise, boosts joint readiness and interoperability while reinforcing the U.S. commitment to the Indo-Pacific.

“It was nice to interact with the U.S. Air Force,” said Grace Wattilete, an Indonesian Air Force cadet air traffic controller. “They were very friendly to us.”

Although training with the Indonesian Air Force was the primary focus, members of Team Misawa carved out time to engage with the local community.

“I learned a lot about my job but even more about the locals,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Daniel Pisciotta, a 35th Maintenance Squadron aircrew ground equipment journeyman. “Since this was my first TDY, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the local community not only made me feel welcomed but accepted. The community reacted positively to our presence, and I built some great bonds and friendships.”

Team Misawa held an open house that allowed local nationals to see the 35th Fighter Wing’s F-16 Fighting Falcon up close and personal while interacting with U.S. Air Force members.

“Mission complete!” exclaimed Injilita Nansi, an Indonesia native. “The U.S. Air Force made my dream of seeing an F-16 in person come true, something I have always looked forward to.”

Immersing in the culture while getting to know the locals in and out of uniform cultivates positive relationships between the United States and Indonesia on a deeper level. The Indonesians said they look forward to the 35th FW’s return in the future.

“Without the support of the community, we wouldn’t be able to have exercises like Cope West,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Moeller, 13th Fighter Squadron commander. “This open house was one way we could show our appreciation for their continued hospitality.”

The Indonesian Air Force also displayed their F-16C, an H-225M Cougar helicopter and a CN-295 military transport aircraft alongside Misawa’s own F-16C.

“This was a great opportunity for our Airmen to interact with the community and to show them our aircraft,” said Moeller. “Open houses like this also help build upon our growing military partnership and fosters a positive relationship between the U.S. and Indonesian community.”

Cope West is a recurring exercise that has occurred since 1989. This year marked the sixth time Cope West has been hosted in Indonesia.