Four members of the West Virginia Air National Guard's (WVANG) 167th Airlift Wing (167th AW) and 130th Airlift Wing (130th AW) recently took part in a current operations subject matter expert exchange (SMEE) at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Aug. 18 - 22, 2019.
The week-long event was a part of the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program (SPP) partnership between West Virginia and Qatar, which has been continually building for over a year and a half.
Capt. Ryan Day, C-17 pilot and chief of current operations, and Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Windle, a C-17 loadmaster, both from the 167th AW, joined Capt. Shawn Porter, C-130 pilot and chief of current operations, and Master Sgt. James Harper, a C-130 loadmaster, for the trip. The WVANG cohort worked alongside members of the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) for the SMEE.
Over the course of the exchange, the WVANG experts shared information on mission planning, scheduling, aircraft and airport loading, as well as contingency planning for changes and weather.
"This was a great opportunity for both the QEAF and the WVANG to develop important relationships among the pilots and loadmasters who may be working alongside one another as our partnership flourishes," said U.S. Army Capt. Allen Jordan, SPP coordinator - Qatar. "This meeting also allowed for our militaries to determine best practices concerning air force current operations that will effectively improve operational efficiency for both organizations and create future opportunities for interoperability."
"This SMEE provided the 130th and 167th the opportunity to understand the basic architecture of how the Qatari Operations Cell develops, designs, and executes missions for the C-17 and C-130 Squadrons," said Porter.
The QEAF currently operates both the C-17 Globemaster III and the C-130J Super Hercules, among other aircraft in their inventory.
"The meetings with our partner, the Qatari Air Force, were very informational and important to both our organizations moving forward," said Harper. "I particularly enjoyed the informal discussions where we could just sit and discuss techniques, practices, and have an open line of communication. We all left the meetings encouraged by the progress and looking forward to next time we could work together."
This SMEE was the second WVANG-QEAF partnership meeting to be held since the announcement of the new partnership in May 2018, which marked the second partner nation for the WVNG and the sixth SPP country in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility for the National Guard.
Through the partnership with Qatar, the WVNG seeks to increase military and diplomatic cooperation, develop and expand defense capabilities and mutually beneficial training interactions. In addition, the two entities work closely together to increase interoperability of forces and deter and disrupt criminal and terrorist activities in the region.