NEWS | Sept. 15, 2021

NY Air Guard teams with Brazilian airmen for Exercise Tapio

By Eric Durr and Staff Sgt. Daniel Farrell, New York National Guard

WESTHAMPTON BEACH, N.Y. - Eighty New York Air National Guard Airmen participated in a 10-day Brazilian Air Force training operation at Campo Grande Brazil in August as part of the State Partnership Program.

The 105th Airlift Wing, based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, transported two HH-60 Pave Hawk rescue helicopters and 57 people to and from the Brazilian Air Force Base in the southern Brazilian state of Mato Grosso in two C-17s.

The Airmen left Aug. 19 and returned to New York Aug. 31.

Of the 80 members of the New York Air National Guard who traveled to Brazil, 47 were Airmen from the 106th Rescue Wing’s 101st Rescue Squadron, which operates the HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters, and the 103rd Rescue Squadron, which is staffed by pararescue Airmen.

The 106th is based at F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach on Long Island.

Joint Tactical Air Controllers from the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron, based at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, were also part of the mission.

Exercise Tapio 2021 was a search and rescue exercise designed so military organizations could train together and share experiences and best practices for combat search and rescue, according to Lt. Col. Chris Baker, the commander of the 103rd Rescue Squadron and the exercise project officer.

The joint exercise simulated war scenarios, including helicopter infiltration and extrication, rescues that required a rope to access the patient, separated survivor scenarios, and an urban operation with a vehicle extrication and mass casualty event.

The exercise was the latest event in a relationship the New York Air National Guard and the Brazilian Air Force began building in 2019 under the State Partnership Program, Baker said. 

Airmen from the 106th were part of a delegation that traveled to Brazil and took part in classroom work sessions and briefings on structure and rescue, he said.

During the training, the Brazilians and Americans familiarized themselves with each other’s aircraft and tactical practices.

In one mission, the American aircrews flew both Brazilians and 106th Rescue Wing pararescue Airmen during an infiltration mission. The American and Brazilian aircrews also practiced flying together.

The tactical air control parties worked with Brazilian airmen to call in simulated missions.

The tactical environment on the ground was made more realistic by using simulated munitions, said Tech Sgt. Dylan Crawford, a 103rd Rescue Squadron pararescueman and team leader during the exercise.

Exercise participants carried weapons firing simulated munitions similar to those used in air guns. 

Training together in a simulated combat environment enabled the Brazilians and Americans to get to know each other better, said Col. Jeff Cannet, the 106th Rescue Wing Operations Group commander who served as the exercise mission commander.

“Do we speak the same language? Not English versus Portuguese — what I mean is operational language,” he said. “Do they do the same maneuvers we do? Do they clear rooms the same way we do? Do they hoist and hover the way our Jollies (helicopters) do? What do we need to establish as rules of engagement and standard operational procedures to keep everybody safe and on the same page?

“They were ready to execute. … It’s a partnership and a relationship I can see blooming over time. I think there’s a lot of value in that,” Cannet said.