“I’m going to teach you how to make coffee,” Royal Jordanian Air Force Warrant Officer Mahmoud Alsaleh, an aircraft structural technician assigned to Muwaffaq Salti Air Base, Azraq, Jordan said.
A percolator and filter are not necessary, just hot water. The coffee from Jordan is lightly spiced with a hint of cardamom, but what makes it most unique is the coffee at the bottom of the cup. Dark, thick textured remnants give it a respectable amount of grit, sure to create cringes, crumpled faces and pursed lips. This is a true cultural experience shared by our Jordanian allies – our friends.
Building relationships by sharing different cultural experiences is what makes the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program so special. Since 2004, the Colorado National Guard and the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army have been traveling back and forth, learning about each other’s culture, while strengthening interoperability within each of the military forces through the exchange of information and best practices.
“It’s a crucial role we’re playing with the SPP program,” 140th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Alert Crew Chief U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Lucas D. Poss said. “The stronger we are, the more secure the area in Jordan, but that goes both ways. The stronger Jordan is, the stronger we become as a nation as well.”
On this particular visit, March 5-8, 2019, at Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colorado, the focus was to take information back to Jordan that would potentially help the RJAF track maintenance performed on aircraft, structure work flow, and observe the different types of equipment used for maintenance and safety of an F-16 Falcon fighter jet.
“One of the biggest takeaways for us is the cross talk of F-16 knowledge between the Jordanians and ourselves,” Poss said. “The relationships that we’re building opens our eyes to cultural differences we might not normally see. For example, a lot of the maintenance work Jordan does is different. Their first line launches and recovers F-16 Falcons. Our first line, which we call flight line, does unscheduled maintenance as well.”
There are also differences in the types of aircraft that Jordanian airmen work on. The COANG works on Block 30 F-16s, meaning their manufacturing service date began in 1987, whereas Jordan works on several older F-16 Falcon jets to include Block 1s and Block 5s built up to 1981.
“Another big thing we’ve learned is how much maintenance work they do over in Jordan,” Poss said. “They perform depot-level maintenance. The Jordanians tear things down (farther). They have many unique situations that they have to work through, especially since they’re dealing with older aircraft with multiple SKUs (part numbers). They have various different systems and are required to do more.”
“It’s important for America to see what we have in Jordan, and it’s important for the RJAF to see what is here in America,” said RJAF Air Communication Technician Warrant Officer Naser Albatayneh.
Taking small steps towards more effective training, problem solving, documentation and systems are changes that are mutually beneficial for RJAF and COANG counterparts. As with sharing coffee, sharing best practices such as reconfiguring work flow structures on systems or personnel are part of making the partnership great – and strong. It involves applying the practical guidance and the cultural norms to the operations. And taken together, these experiences are a perfect way to explore differences in culture and tactics, balancing them with friendship and learning.
“The most important part of this trip was knowing what I must change,” RJAF Weapons Technician Lt. Khaled Shakkour said. “It takes time, but I will do my best to help the value of my technicians.”
Poss reflected on his travels to Jordan and said the most important thing he learned from the RJAF is how resourceful they are. “They have so much work to do with fewer resources and personnel, but they make it work. When obstacles present themselves, they find a way to get it done.”
“The relationship between Jordanians and Americans is good,” expressed Shakkour. “Good relations is the most important part of these trips. Having such a good relationship builds a stronger defense.”