GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala - Thee members of the Western Air Defense Sector's 225th Air Defense Squadron were in Guatemala to provide air defense expertise to the Guatemalan Air Force.
The Arkansas Air National Guard is partnered with Guatemala as part of the State Partnership Program (SPP).SPP is a Department of Defense joint security cooperation program administered by the National Guard Bureau that links a state's National Guard with the armed forces of a partner country in order to build long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with U.S. allies around the world.
The 225thADS typically supports the Washington National Guard State Partnership Program with Thailand and Malaysia. Since air defense expertise in the Air National Guard is not in all 54 states and territories, Arkansas reached out to Washington to assist in Guatemala's request for air defense assistance based on the 225thADS long-standing air defense experience.
Through the U.S. Embassy and the Office of Security Cooperation, the 225thADS service members lent their expertise to the Guatemalan national air defense network in August.
This was the first of three visits, according to Lt. Col. Eric Corder, the assistant director of operations for the 225thADS. "The key word in this program is partnership. While we were able to give much feedback to their leadership about the functionality and validity of their program, we really used this first visit to establish relationships – because that is how this type of work really gets done. It is based on mutual trust, respect, and understanding of each other's perspectives."
The 225thADS team included Corder, Maj. John Dalrymple, senior director, and Master Sgt. Donald Pierce, air surveillance technician. They spent a week with the Guatemalan Air Force where they participated in briefings, conversations, and in direct observation of the mission.
"The fact that Major Dalrymple is fluent in Spanish greatly assisted in our ability to communicate effectively," explained Corder.
At the end of the week, the team was able to offer an assessment of how well their program, which is relatively new, is working and was able to offer insights and suggestions to add efficiencies to their operation.
Corder emphasized that there is nearly 50 years of air defense experience between the three service members that participated. "The Guatemalan Air Force welcomed our input and valued our perspectives. Likewise, we admired their unit pride and capabilities, especially given the length of time they have been performing their mission. We look forward to our next few visits and the continuation of not only a great partnership, but of a new friendship."