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Talons Entwined: Exercise Falcon Talon 2024

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Zoie Cox
  • Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central) Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Central’s 378th Air Expeditionary Wing and Pakistan Air Force Airmen recently conducted the fifth iteration of Exercise Falcon Talon, a bilateral Field Training Exercise focused on tactical-level counter-terrorism, air-to-ground weapons employment, and subject matter expert exchanges, held in Pakistan from June 1 - June 11, 2024.

Airmen from across the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility deployed to Pakistan in support of this Agile Combat Employment operation. Air Mobility Command’s C-17 Globemaster III aircraft delivered passengers and cargo followed by the arrival of U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Aviano Air Base’s 510th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, also known as the ‘Buzzards,’ currently deployed to the region.

Exercise Falcon Talon 2024 provided U.S. forces the opportunity to integrate with Pakistani forces to expand training interactions and support operational objectives for both nations.

“Exercise Falcon Talon 2024 has been a distinctive opportunity for the 510th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron Buzzards to collaborate with our Pakistani Air Force partners and enhance our skills both in the air and on the ground,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Leo Moore, 510th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander.

 During Falcon Talon 2024, significant activities revolved around three key focus areas: tactical execution, logistics support, and planning integration. U.S. Airmen from various career fields worked alongside the Pakistan Air Force, engaging in real-world experience and knowledge exchange sessions covering areas such as firefighting, explosive ordnance disposal, security forces, medical, and joint terminal attack control.

Airmen from the 378th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department integrated with the Pakistan Air Force Fire Department to conduct aircraft pilot egress drills, fuel, munitions and aircraft firefighting, policy creation exercises, and effective debrief sessions to include the introduction of the “hot wash” briefing style. They exchanged knowledge and held a friendly firefighter competition at the end of the exercise to test new skills the fire crews learned.

“The impact has been immeasurable but positive, some of the small details have received extreme positive attention and many of our suggestions or methods of doing things have already begun to gain traction,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jonathan Campos, 378th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department fire chief. “These exchanges not only help us showcase our expertise, but the personal relationships and bonds created and sense of community is palpable after such exercises.”

 The Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit from the 378th Air Expeditionary Wing also collaborated with Pakistan Air Force during Falcon Talon 2024. They performed joint improvised explosive device training and operations and demonstrated techniques on how to safely handle complex problems under stressful circumstances.

Security Forces from the 378th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron merged with Pakistan Air Force security and worked around-the-clock to secure an active airfield, all United States Air Force and Pakistan Air Force assets, and personnel. Along with countering any real-world threats, security forces also created three educational scenarios and equipment familiarization in which U.S. Air Force subject matter experts facilitated impromptu briefings and hands-on field exercises to Pakistan Air Force security members and leadership.

“The biggest takeaway is the exchange of differences in the manner in which we believe security should be accomplished, all while merging new ideas with the thought process of their security measures already in place,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kevin Burk, 378th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron flight sergeant. “The scenarios not only benefits collaboration in the long run of where we can take our bilateral security mindset.”

Critical to every emergency situation, a two-person medical team consisting of a medical technician and a flight surgeon deployed to support the exercise. Medical not only treated members for minor concerns during the exercise, but also coordinated and executed three drills to include an on-base aircraft crash contingency response, an off-base aircraft crash contingency scenario, and a visit with a Pakistan Air Force flight surgeon and local hospital where they simulated a mass casualty event.

“We discussed the differences in training and capabilities of our flight surgeons and the importance of mid-level providers in austere or resource limited locations,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Sanders, 378th Expeditionary Medical Squadron independent duty medical technician. “Pakistan Air Force has good medical knowledge, and we shared what we have learned and demonstrated how to improve exercises to help better simulate a real-world event.”

The U.S. Air Forces Central’s Air Warfare Center deployed a joint terminal attack control instructor to conduct academic discussions on airspace control authority, coordinated attacks, sensor management, and enhanced target descriptions. Together, the U.S. Air Force and Pakistan Air Force executed live fly missions involving helicopters for infiltration and exfiltration, fighter aircraft for close air support, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms for real-time targeting data and combat search and rescue support. Joint terminal attack control operations primarily focused on close air support drills in a counter-terrorism environment. These joint exercises enhance interoperability and reinforce tactical proficiency through shared experiences and real-time operations.

“Subject matter expert exchanges are crucial for ensuring interoperability and fostering trust in our allies' abilities,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brandon Tatum, Air Warfare Center advanced training division chief joint terminal attack control instructor. “By working closely together, we can better understand each other's capabilities, enhance our coordination, and improve the overall effectiveness of our joint missions. This collaboration strengthens our mutual defense strategies and readiness.”

Falcon Talon is an annual, Pakistan Air Force hosted, event that builds on the crucial relationship between the two nations and brings together a powerful binational force to promote and advance mutual security in the region. U.S. Air Forces Central works regularly with regional partners during event scenarios and real-world operations to strengthen theater security cooperation efforts against aggressors within the region.

“The enduring partnership between our nations remains critical for the security of the region as the U.S. continues to stand with Pakistan in tackling the most pressing global and regional challenges, as we have since our mutual defense assistance agreement in 1954,” said Chief of Operations for Exercise Falcon Talon 2024, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Nicholas Gardner. “Falcon Talon 2024, 70 years later, sustains our partnership by building peace, security, and stability. Falcon Talon sharpens our Airmen's lethality. We look forward to working shoulder-to-shoulder in maintaining aircraft, protecting our Airmen, and building our bonds to last for another 70 years.”