AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates --
Building partnerships. Maintaining trust. Strengthening capability. Supporting interoperability. These aren’t just buzzwords at the U.S. Air Forces Central Command Air Warfare Center. It’s the true business of what this small team of experts does, every day.
“We serve as Air Force air advisors here to provide expertise and assistance to Host Nation counterparts,” said Capt. Patterson Aldueza, AAWC intelligence branch chief. “This helps to increase interoperability and capability for both services as well as other regional coalition partners.”
Aldueza and his peers said they spend half their day working shoulder-to-shoulder with Emirati counterparts at the United Arab Emirates AWC and then transition back to their work centers to continuing tackling critical objectives.
“The U.S. and UAE want regional stability,” said Maj. Karl Wilson, AAWC fighter branch chief. “The way we have that is through military strength and the ability, if called upon, to successfully employ our forces together.”
A key component to achieve this interoperability is through major exercises. The AAWC works closely with the UAE AWC in the planning and executions of bilateral and multilateral exercises for coalition partners in the Arabian Gulf region.
“Our primary way for increased interoperability for us and the Emiratis is to host these large exercises,” said Wilson. “We invite nations from the around the region, to include Europe, so we’re not just fighting bilaterally as U.S. and UAE, but as a coalition.”
The AAWC team assists with mission planning, execution, debriefing, and helping standardize operating procedures for an effective event.
“Whenever the host nation conducts an exercise, we are there to help,” said Aldueza. “We ask: what are the objectives? What do we want to achieve? How can we help facilitate that? The AAWC provides our expertise. They (UAE) have the lead, but the USAF air advisors are here to train and assist for whatever they need.”
The exercises are one of the biggest growth areas for the center, as Wilson added their goal is to help the AAWC become the regional exercise center for the military.
“The future of the AAWC is going to be regionally known, bigger exercises that include warfare from all domains,” he said. “We have a lot of assets, and we’re bringing them all here to the UAE to make these exercises bigger and better. The UAE has embraced the joint warfare fight, and they are working to include units from multiple domains in the fights as well.”
The effective, working partnership with the UAE requires trust, common ground and building relationships, but it also requires flexibility, according to Aldueza.
“We have to stay flexible—it’s the beauty of working with our international partners,” said Aldueza. “Things will come up. This is the opportunity to actually understand each other’s processes and work through that in a training environment. So, whenever we do real world missions together we’ve already learned those lessons.”
Training together now will also have long-term impacts according to Wilson, who said many of the UAE military members will serve for 30 years or more in the service.
“The relationship that I build today is going to have a tremendous impact on the UAE’s military relationship with the U.S. several decades from now,” said Wilson. “If we continue to build strong relationships now, then we are securing a stronger relationship in the future with the UAE.”