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New partnership: Alabama Reservists exchange knowledge, skills with Romanian counterparts.

Seventy Citizen Airmen from the 908th Airlift Wing at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, completed a two-week trip to Romania in late July and early August, solidifying a newly formed relationship with the country's air force as part of the Reserve Partnership Program.

The program is similar to the National Guard's State Partnership Program with the intent to build long-term relationships with military branches from allied nations. The 908th AW's trip to Romania marked the first Reserve Partnership Program visit.

"Within six weeks, we developed the plan, executed it, and moved two aircraft, 70 people and 20 tons of cargo to Romania," said Maj. Sammy Manno, project officer for the visit.

Romanian aircrew members flew as observers aboard the two 908th C-130 Hercules aircraft on low-level flights in the mountains north of Bucharest. They looked on as Containerized Delivery System and low-cost, low-altitude training bundles, along with personnel, were dropped on Boboc Air Base.

"This was our first hands-on experience building CDS bundles," said Romanian Warrant Officer Stefan Paraschiv. "We have dropped ones built by other units but not constructed on our own. I'm looking forward to adding to our ability to train with and use the CDS. We also learned about the joint airlift inspection process to make sure loads are properly rigged to drop."

Aircraft maintenance was another key focus area during the visit.

"We went to Romania with two goals in mind," said Maj. Richard Cox of the 908th Maintenance Group. "First to provide operational maintenance support for the flying missions and second to deliver four to six demonstrations highlighting our key C-130H maintenance concepts: ground safety and mishap prevention, crash and recovery, and aerospace ground equipment repair programs and procedures.

"We achieved success in both areas, providing a 92 percent mission capable rate and more than 25 capability demonstrations to our Romanian counterparts."

Cox said the Reservists quickly realized that they were dealing with expert maintainers who "simply don't have access to infrastructure, training, documentation and supply resources that we do. Their military budget simply doesn't allow it. Most of their aircraft maintenance training is gained 2 as on-the-job training, depending heavily on utilizing the experience of others."

The colonel said his team quickly learned that their Romanian counterparts are "motivated by their love of aircraft, patriotism for their country and pride in what they do. Their willingness to watch, learn and share experiences was a welcome surprise. Relationships and friendships quickly formed over these commonalities much like many of us have experienced throughout our military careers. They share the same concerns of national defense that we do. They are motivated by the recent memories of living under constant threat in their global region. As military members, we gained I much respect for these men and women.

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"The relationships that were formed will serve as a great foundation for future engagements. I could not be more impressed with the performance and professionalism that our operations and maintenance groups demonstrated."

Near the end of the visit, Col. Pat Brooks, 908th AW vice commander, met with Romanian Air Force Gen. Viorel Pana to discuss the newly formed partnership.

"General Pana was extremely pleased with our visit and ' performance," Brooks said. "He would like us to return and conduct our exercise at roughly the same time next year. We discussed the possibility of some Romanian forces coming to visit the 908th Airlift Wing over the next year."

(908th AW public affairs)

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Maj. Gen. Richard Haddad, who played college football at the Air Force Academy, was one of several Air Force Reserve Command senior leaders who represented the Reserve at the inaugural Celebration Bowl. Haddad, who served as AFRC vice commander, has since retired. In the background is the Celebration Bowl trophy awarded to the winner of the game.
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Publication:Citizen Airman
Geographic Code:4EXRO
Date:Oct 1, 2016
Words:633
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