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WADS provides air defense expertise to Guatemalan Air Force

  • Published
  • By Capt. Kimberly D. Burke
  • 225th Western Air Defense Sector Public Affairs
Three members of the Western Air Defense Sector’s 225th Air Defense Squadron traveled to Guatemala in August to provide air defense expertise to the Guatemalan Air Force.

The trip was in conjunction with the National Guard's State Partnership Program, which links a state's National Guard with the armed forces of a partner country in order to build long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with U.S. allies around the world.

The 225th ADS typically supports the Washington National Guard State Partnership Program with Thailand and Malaysia. Since air defense expertise in the Air National Guard is not in all 54 states and territories, Arkansas, which is partnered with Guatemala in the program, reached out to Washington to assist in Guatemala’s request for air defense assistance based on the 225th ADS long-standing air defense experience.

Through the U.S. Embassy and the Office of Security Cooperation, the 225th ADS service members lent their expertise to the Guatemalan national air defense network.

“The key word in this program is partnership," said Lt. Col. Eric Corder, assistant director of operations for the 225th ADS. "While we were able to give much feedback to their leadership about the functionality and validity of their program, we really used this first visit to establish relationships–because that is how this type of work really gets done. It is based on mutual trust, respect, and understanding of each other’s perspectives.”

The 225th ADS team included Corder, Maj. John Dalrymple, senior director, and Master Sgt. Donald Pierce, air surveillance technician. In the first of three planned visits, they spent a week with the Guatemalan Air Force where they participated in briefings, conversations, and in direct observation of the mission.

“The fact that Major Dalrymple is fluent in Spanish greatly assisted in our ability to communicate effectively,” explained Corder.

At the end of the week, the team was able to offer an assessment of how well their program, which is relatively new, is working and was able to offer insights and suggestions to add efficiency to their operation.

Corder emphasized that there are nearly 50 years of air defense experience between the three service members who participated. “The Guatemalan Air Force welcomed our input and valued our perspectives. Likewise, we admired their unit pride and capabilities, especially given the length of time they have been performing their mission. We look forward to our next few visits and the continuation of not only a great partnership, but of a new friendship.”