353rd SOMXS demonstrates capabilities with Thai partners

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jessica Tait, 353rd Special Operations Group Public Affairs
  • 353rd Special Operations Group
Members of the 353rd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron worked side-by-side with Royal Thai Air Force 601st Squadron Maintenance Team during the Teak Torch 2017 subject-matter expert exchange, March 2-17, 2017 at Don Mueang Air Base, Thailand.

“Our maintainers have been doing amazing stuff with our Thai partners,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Matthew Howard, Teak Torch 2017 mission commander. “In addition to troubleshooting some of their aircraft, we are seeking opportunities to teach them our tactics, techniques and procedures in order to advance interoperability among our units.”

The subject-matter expert exchange structure of Teak Torch 2017 provided the opportunity for hands-on instruction.

“We gained approval to demonstrate the PSD-90 system, a fuel quantity test set that helps us troubleshoot and calibrate gauges, on a RTAF C-130,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kyle Johnson, 353rd SOMXS guidance and control craftsman. “The Thais have a comparable piece of equipment that is two generations behind the PSD-90, so we wanted to show them a more advance test set to further along their troubleshooting.”

Connecting U.S. equipment on foreign aircraft is significant for the 353rd SOMXS due to the extensive approval process.

“Working with the Special Operations Command foreign disclosure office, we were able to reach out to Secretary of the Air Force International Affairs to bless the use of the test set on Thai aircraft for demonstration purposes,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lieutenant Christopher Teaford, 353rd SOMXS maintenance officer-in-charge. “The process took about a month for approval, but has proved huge dividends in the realm of building partnership capacity.”

The exchange of best practices helps further understanding, interoperability and partner capacity with our allies.

“Some of their leads have been working on the aircraft as long as I’ve been alive,” said Johnson. “They know what they are doing, they know the theory better than some of us, its just procuring the right type of equipment so they can get their planes fixed and in the air more efficiently.”

The experiences gained from Teak Torch 2017 complements the mutual training interests of Thailand and the United States to respond humanitarian crises like earthquakes and typhoons.

“The partnerships we have created with the Thai military have been outstanding,” said Teaford. “The relationships we’ve created from years past have gone unchanged and continue to flourish at the most personal levels.”