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Home : News : State Partnership Program
NEWS | May 31, 2024

Washington Guard, Malaysia Conduct Air Assault Exchange

By Joseph Siemandel, Joint Force Headquarters - Washington National Guard

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. - A recent engagement with Malaysia has laid the foundation for future State Partnership Program exchanges between the Special Operations Detachment Pacific, the 1161st Rigger Detachment and Headquarters Company, the 56th Theater Information Operations Group and the Malaysian Army’s 10th Rapid Deployment Force.

“The purpose of this was to conduct an exchange of operating procedures and best practices with regard to airborne operations and air assault operations,” said Lt. Col. Denny Frey, operations officer, 56th Theater Information Operations Group. “Based on the success of this exchange, the 10th Rapid Deployment Force wishes to maintain an annual exchange to focus on these topics to continue building interoperability and capability.”

From May 9-23, six Washington Army National Guard members who are jumpmaster, rigger, airborne and military freefall-qualified took part in the first hands-on airborne and air assault subject matter exchange with more than 75 Malaysian Army soldiers in Malacca, Malaysia. 

Jumpmasters are the expert paratroopers in an airborne unit who train and teach the military techniques for jumping from airplanes or helicopters. These members are responsible for training Soldiers at the Army Airborne School to become paratroopers and managing airborne jump operations in airborne units across all branches of services. Washington Army National Guard special operations unit members must maintain jump status and train to maintain their qualifications.

Guard members brought their expertise to Malaysia. They focused the exchange on air assault planning and execution, including loading and unloading procedures from UH-60 Black Hawks and CH-47 Chinook aircraft, ground tactical planning, landing zone selection and other air assault planning considerations.

“The 10th RDF demonstrated excellent efficiency and capacity within their airborne operations program,” said Frey.

While this was the first exchange of its type, unit members have already discussed building the program.

“The exchange included dialogue around the possibility of 10th RDF sending personnel to attend Leap Fest in July/August 2024,” said Frey.

Leap Fest is the largest, longest-running international military static line parachute competition in the world.

“We also discussed having them join us for an exchange jump later this year at Joint Base Lewis-McChord to develop a long-lasting relationship with our Malaysian partners, building to future cooperation in 2025 and beyond,” said Frey.

The Washington National Guard and Malaysia have been partners in the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program since 2017. The program began in 1993 and now includes 92 partnerships with 106 nations.