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NEWS | March 5, 2024

U.S. Air Force strengthens ties, bolster tactical airlift interoperability in exercise with Bangladesh Air Force

By Staff Sgt. Tristan Truesdell, Pacific Air Forces

Nearly 80 U.S. Air Force service members and two C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the 36th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron (EAS) integrated with Bangladesh for the bilateral tactical airlift exercise, Cope South 2024 (CS24) at Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) Bangabandhu Cantonment, Dhaka and Operating Location-Alpha, Sylhet, Bangladesh, Feb. 19 to 28.

Airmen from Yokota Air Base and Kadena Air Base, Japan; Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, and Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, came together to participate in subject-matter expert exchanges (SMEE) and six tactical airlift sorties alongside BAF, which involved 77 personnel jumps and five cargo bundle airdrops.

Cope South 2024 is a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored bilateral tactical airlift exercise and provides an opportunity to strengthen the interoperability between U.S. and Bangladesh Air Forces, which directly impacts the ability to address shared security concerns.

“Cope South focuses on developing closer relationships with our BAF partners so we are better-equipped to operate together in the future,” said Capt. Jason Bentley, 36th EAS mission commander.

“We are building skills that assist in humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations (HADR), which encompass a wide-range of areas including crew resource management, aircraft formation, airdrop operations, aircraft maintenance and aeromedical evacuation,” he added.

Throughout the exercise, both U.S. and Bangladesh Air Force service members exchanged best practices-or SMEEs-in the operations, maintenance, medical and rigging career fields to strengthen relations and support the Bangladesh Armed Forces’ long-term modernization effort to maintain regional stability.

Relationships built with regional partners in the Indo-Pacific through exercises like CS24, civil-military operations and military exchanges are vital in HADR efforts and preserving stability in the region. CS24 has helped cultivate these common bonds, fostered goodwill and enhanced the mission readiness and interoperability between members of the Bangladesh and U.S. Air Forces.

“The BAF loadmasters were kind and made our interactions and SME exchanges feel like we’re simply talking to old friends and sharing lessons learned as aviators,” said Master Sgt. Tonisha Odom, 36th EAS senior enlisted leader. “In the short time we were there, we developed a warm relationship and I’m grateful for the opportunity to work alongside the BAF, knowing we share a common commitment to protecting the sovereignty of free nations.”

Through bilateral exercises like Cope South 2024, the U.S. Air Force and involved regional partners strengthen human relationships under the common goal of stabilizing the region and ultimately safeguarding the security of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“The Pacific Air Forces’ participation in Cope South 2024 has indeed reaffirmed the strong bond of frivolity, friendship and cooperation between our two air forces,” said BAF Air Vice Marshal Hasan Mahmood Khan, Air Headquarters assistant Chief of Air Staff operations during the closing ceremony.

“Exercise Cope South has not only been about military events and strategic exercise, but has embodied the spirit of partnership amongst missions,” he concluded. “This exercise has surely paved the way for newer optimism in forming our existing bond and commitment to uphold the calls of humanity.”




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