June 21, 2015 (by TSgt. Kristine Dreyer) - Members from the 353rd Special Operations Group along with members from the 36th Airlift Squadron conducted multinational and bilateral training during Joint Chief of Staff Exercise Teak Mint 15-1 in Kuala Lumpur and Kuantan, Malaysia, May 26 through June 13.
A RMAF C-130 from 20th Sqn is followed by an MC-130J Command II from the 17th SOS and a C-130H from the 36th AS as they taxi prior to takeoff June 9, 2015 at a Subang AFB, Malaysia. The three aircraft took part in a multi-ship air drop operation. [USAF photo by TSgt. Kristine Dreyer]
"This exercise has been a great opportunity for our Airmen to learn," said Maj. Michael S. Perry, Teak Mint 15-1 mission commander. "For the past two weeks, we had the opportunity to build a mutually beneficial relationship between U.S. and Malaysian air forces. Each group came here with a diverse perspective shaped by their unique history. I was happy to see how both countries took full advantage of building partnerships and learning from each other. "
The exercise consisted of focused exchanges, practical aircrew training and integrated combined and joint force exercises used to help improve interoperability between the Malaysian service components.
While the special tactics operators conducted jungle survival training and close air support training with the Royal Malaysian Air Force Pasukan Khas Udara, aircrews from the 17th Special Operations Squadron and the 36th Airlift Squadron also conducted exchange training with RMAF crews in night vision goggle operations and low-cost low-altitude aerial resupply.
Safety has become a common priority shared by the U.S. Air Force and Royal Malaysian Air Force, so a three-day risk management focused exchange was also held to help both countries execute the mission safely.
U.S. Air Force Maj. John Huntsman, 353rd Special Operations Group, chief of flight safety, met with more than 30 safety officials from all the Royal Malaysian Air Force bases, to help strengthen their Air Force safety program by covering risk management, mitigation and tools they can use to determine risks priorities. Each safety representative plans to take the information back to their respective bases and implement an inspectable safety program.
"They are at the early stages of risk management while we have annual training and RM has become a part of our culture," said Huntsman. "They fully bought into the importance of RM and plan to include it in their day-to-day operations as a systematic and continuous process used to enhance mission effectiveness."
Before the exercise closed, the strengthened partnership between the U.S. Air Force and the Royal Malaysian Air Force was put into practice during a successful Joint and Combined Training Exercise.
"This is my 9th Teak Mint as a young coordinator and exercise controller and now a deputy exercise director," said Royal Malaysian Air Force Maj. Azril Omree bin Dato' Hasbullah. "Teak Mint has never failed to reach our goals and expectations of revolutionizing a potent combat air mobility force at the forefront of global peace. This is evident through never before stronger ties in cooperation albeit in COMREL, sports, and air operations. This year’s Teak Mint was a memorable one personally for me as we made history, and I was the lead in a multi-ship airdrop operation."