Breaking cultural barriers through a shared mission

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Natalie Filzen
  • 386 AEW Public Affairs

On any given day at the dining facility at Ali Al Salem Air Base, one can hear overlapping conversations in various languages. In a deployed environment, it is common for American forces to work alongside coalition partner nations armed forces. In December 2020, the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron leadership and flight commanders saw an opportunity to learn from other nations, and established monthly recurring meetings.

“This started as a way to network, so we could see how to help each other,” said Maj. Angela Petersen, commander of the 386th ELRS. “We meet monthly to learn what other countries do and what their mission is here.”

These meetings, such as the squadron immersion tour on March 17, 2022, allow for a space and time for partner nations to share their best practices and any other important information to better strengthen each other.

“The 386th ELRS is hosting a coalition partnership tour where we took them through the lifecycle of a box to be shipped out, including an aircraft part that needed to go out to another location in the theater,” said 1st Lt. Joe Aruijo, 386th ELRS flight commander for fuels management and vehicle management.

The logistics readiness squadron, including the fuels management, vehicle management, materiel management, deployment and distribution, and aerial port flights, encouraged logistics members of partner nations to attend, however the event was open to anyone who wanted to learn more about the American side of logistics. The next meeting will be hosted by another nation.

Royal Danish Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Thorup of the Danish National Support Element, was one participant who is a logistics sergeant in the armored engineer battalion and familiar with logistics practices.

“It is [interesting] to see how the American machine is running compared to ours,” said Thorup. “It gave me the chance to know where I can go for anything I need.”

These types of events build connections between seemingly independent groups and illuminate the ways coalition partners can strengthen each other.

“The importance is that we get to learn from each other, about the culture in their respective Air Force and how their military operates from a logistics standpoint,” said Aruijo.

They ended the tour with an R-11 fuel truck hose dragging race, where coalition partners pulled the hose down a couple yards alongside their American counterparts.

While this international group was coordinated by the logistics readiness squadron, all American squadrons can open their doors and are encouraged to enact some sort of coalition outreach with the international partners on base.