NEWS | Sept. 8, 2015

Colorado Guard and Jordan state partnership goes rotary

By Staff Sgt. Joseph K. VonNida Colorado National Guard

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – On any given day, Colorado residents can see and hear Colorado Army National Guardsmen and women tearing through the skies rescuing fallen hikers, fighting wildland fires, searching for missing hunters, or a multitude of training missions throughout Colorado mountain ranges out of reach to non-military aircraft.

The most common tool used for these scenarios, the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, is a powerful and diverse aircraft used across the globe as a multi-mission aircraft.

The Black Hawk has capabilities beyond those of most civilian and first-responder assets, so Colorado National Guard aviators are called on frequently to assist Colorado communities.

Such missions build best practices and knowledge that is being shared with more than just the U.S.

Since 1995, through the Department of Defense's State Partnership Program, Colorado and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan have been steadily building a path that has developed into a rock-solid relationship.

"The UH-60 is a common aircraft between the Colorado Army National Guard and the Jordanians, especially the Prince Hashim Royal Brigade," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Craig Wenkheimer, a UH-60 tactical operations officer.

Through the State Partnership Program, the National Guard conducts military-to-military engagements in support of defense security goals.

There have been 12 rotary-wing aviation exchanges between Colorado and Jordan since the program started in 2006, the most recent in September.

"The purpose of this exchange was to discuss various rotary aviation tactics, techniques, procedures and issues based on combat experiences," said Colorado Air National Guard Lt. Col. Nicole David, bilateral affairs officer for Colorado and Jordan. "Topics included safety operations in a desert environment, crew coordination, high-altitude flying techniques, maintenance standardization, and instructor pilot and standardization practices."

Furthermore, State Partnership Program exchanges enhance a common understanding of people, culture and operations, so if the time ever comes to be coalition partners, the stage is already set. For example:

The UH-60 is being used extensively by the Jordanian military in the Syrian crisis operationally, said David, and "the Colorado National Guard has a lot of operational experiences to share with the Jordan Armed Forces."

Colorado Army National Guard Capt. Chris Moskoff, flight operations officer, stated that in just the last 10 years, the Colorado National Guard has deployed rotary assets overseas seven times and performed a multitude of domestic responses, ranging from search-and-rescue missions to flood response and firefighting support across three states.

In addition, Colorado Rocky Mountains are similar to the mountains of northern Afghanistan, therefore they provide a realistic high-altitude aviation training environment to pilots. In contrast, Jordanian aviators train day to day in a desert environment, and have plenty of their own knowledge to share with Colorado aviators.

"We have developed rapport and a good working relationship with our partner organizations in Jordan," said Wenkheimer. "This builds a level of mutual respect, identifies similarities and differences in how we operate, and allows us all to exchange better ways of doing things while operating in a unified environment."

"From these types of exchanges, long-standing relationships are further developed. Exchanging information on tactics, techniques and procedures, and experiences, help both militaries consider things they may not have ever considered, or share solutions to common issues," said David. "Different isn't wrong, it is simply different. Exchanges reiterate the importance of the relationships built though the State Partnership Program and when there comes a need for real world cooperation."