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NEWS | March 7, 2022

Cope South 2022 enhances U.S., Bangladesh Air Force Tactical Airlift Interoperability

By Tech. Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- More than 70 U.S. Air Force Airmen and one U.S. Space Force Guardian assigned to the 36th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, joined approximately 300 members of the Bangladesh Air Force to evaluate and improve their combined interoperability during Exercise Cope South 2022 from Feb. 19 to Feb. 26.

The bi-annual Pacific Air Forces-sponsored bilateral tactical airlift exercise was an opportunity for U.S. Air Force and BAF to practice tactical airlift together.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Madeline Atkinson, 36th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron mission commander explained why bilateral exercise like Cope South are so important in maintaining and strengthening region stability.

“We need to continue to better ourselves and continue to better our allies and partners, and we can develop together,” said Atkinson. “We’re coming to these different locations, learning how to operate in different countries to see how they work and how we can integrate together, so if something ever happens we’re ready. We know what to do and we’ve done this before and it’s not a question of setting up how things are done; it’s already been done.”

U.S. Air Force and BAF participants shared knowledge and best practices, including discussions on C-130J capabilities, crew resource management and aircrew flight equipment nomenclature, to better execute exercise tasks during Cope South.

Static line jumps, high altitude, low opening (HALO) jumps, low level flight, night observation flights, and containerized delivery systems air drops were some of the tasks participants were able to execute together. Throughout the exchanges and training objectives, both air forces were able to share tactics, techniques and procedures with each other.

“We’re learning from the Bangladesh Air Force,” said Master Sgt. Paul Vieira, 36th EAS senior enlisted leader. “They train differently than we do and they operate differently than we do. That diverse exchange of ideas is really beneficial for our folks. I hope we can benefit from the exchange of ideas that we have and build that relationship on a personal level.”

The ability to execute tactical airlift training side-by-side with a partner nation proved invaluable for participants from both air forces.

“We have the same operational understanding,” said BAF Group Captain GM Shamim Reza, Commander of the 101 Special Flying Unit. “We had the opportunity to learn a lot, exchange our views on maintenance aspects, then operational aspects through mutual interactions. It’s strengthening the relationship between our two air forces and two countries. Thank you Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Air Force, and a special thanks to the 36th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron who have been wonderfully performing and have been among us. We didn’t feel that they were the United States Air Force, we felt we were from a global air force.”

Exercises like Cope South improve Pacific Air Forces’ ability to work with partner nations in maintaining regional stability. For Lt. Col. Kira Coffey, 36th EAS commander, bilateral exercises like this are critical in ensuring that priority is achieved.

“We’re nothing without our friends. We’re nothing without our partners and allies,” said Coffey. “The idea of a free and open Indo-Pacific is not some sort of exclusive club, it’s a way of life, it’s a human feeling of respect for certain values: sovereignty, security, freedom, dignity and openness. When we share those same values with people, there’s a certain level of security and peace that comes with that. To be able to get together and exercise under that value set is an opportunity for us to all continue to strengthen this region in a positive way.”

Exercise Cope South 2022 marks the exercise’s 13th iteration, in a continued effort to enhance U.S. and Bangladesh forces’ ability to operate together during humanitarian air and disaster relief response and countering transnational threats and hazards, to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.


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