WILLEMSTAD – United States Southern Command, and in turn, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) and the 474th Air Expeditionary Group/612th Theater Operations Group strive to execute the National Defense Strategy in the USSOUTHCOM Area of Responsibility (AOR) by focusing on three key lines of effort (LOEs): Strengthen Partnerships, Counter Threats, and Build Our Team.
As members of these organizations strive to accomplish these efforts, it is rare that a single event or operation encompasses all three in their entirety. The successful deployment of the Dutch MQ-9 unmanned aircraft system to the Cooperative Security Location in Curacao is the first of its kind in the Caribbean.
“This endeavor will make everyone involved stronger, more agile, and ready for any call that comes our way. We truly are better together”, said the 429th EOS Commander, Lt. Col. Don Morris.
The Royal Netherlands Armed Forces in conjunction with the 429th Expeditionary Operations Squadron (429th EOS) deployed aircraft, personnel, and support equipment; which enabled their pilots the opportunity to maximize training in unencumbered airspace. The 429th EOS was a key part of mission success by providing facilities, logistic support, and mutual aid to bring the first MQ-9s into the country, thus fulfilling two LOEs – strengthening partnerships and building the team.
The United States Consulate General in Curaçao, Margy Bond, stated in her remarks at the opening ceremony, “This deployment marks a new high-water mark…of the close relationship between the Royal Netherlands Armed Forces and the Armed Forces of the United States of America.”
Not only are the pilots and sensor operators benefiting from this effort but the United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense’s (DASD) counter-narcotics (CN) mission will enhance as well. One of the key functions of the MQ-9 is to gather intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance (ISR) information; having these friendly eyes in the sky will help identify drug trafficking corridors. These MQ-9 ISR assets will aide in deterring and capturing drug runners, and lead to increased confiscation of illicit drugs traveling through the Caribbean waterways. This is a prime example of how strengthening partnerships and building our team amplifies our ability to execute the third LOE of countering threats.
“The planning and execution leading up to this deployment entailed close collaboration between the Armed Forces of our two countries, exemplifying the dedication to the multinational counter-narcotics mission in the Caribbean Basin.”, Bond added.
As operations have started and continue to develop, U.S. Air Force Col. Cory Christoffer, 474th Air Expeditionary Group and 612th Theater Operations Group, summed up the importance of this event by saying, “We are thankful on a tactical level for the relationships and the friends that we made. We are thankful on the operational level to see what the future may hold in the Caribbean and we are very thankful on the strategic level for the global partnership that we are able to solidify with the Netherlands at this location.”
Bron: Curacao Chronicle