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Friendship Jump With Wings
by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Joshua Kincaid
January 8, 2020

The world can be full of differences, whether that be beliefs, culture or even language; however, sometimes working through those differences can lead to friendship.

Reserve Citizen Airmen from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia took part in facilitating a Friendship Jump on the last day of Exercise Eager Lion over a remote section of Jordan on September 5, 2019.

September 5, 2019 - A set of jump wings prepared for the pinning ceremony that takes place after the Friendship Jump remains in focus as the jumper’s parachute to the Jordanian ground during Exercise Eager Lion. Eager Lion, U.S. Central Command's largest and most complex exercise, is an opportunity to integrate forces in a multilateral environment, operate in realistic terrain and strengthen military-to-military relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Kincaid)
September 5, 2019 - A set of jump wings prepared for the pinning ceremony that takes place after the Friendship Jump remains in focus as the jumper’s parachute to the Jordanian ground during Exercise Eager Lion. Eager Lion, U.S. Central Command's largest and most complex exercise, is an opportunity to integrate forces in a multilateral environment, operate in realistic terrain and strengthen military-to-military relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Kincaid)

Dobbins provided the airpower which got nearly 250 military members from 18 allied nations airborne to participate in the jump.

“This is a great way to showcase infiltration methods for both static-line and military free-fall allowing the 18 nations of the Special Forces coalition to participate,” said a representative from the command element of the Special Operations Coalition.

Upwards of 150 static-line jumpers leapt from approximately 1,250 feet about ground level, while the high altitude, low opening (HALO) jumpers, amassing more than 75 members, leapt from nearly 13,000 feet above ground level.

“Conducting these complex operations allows the forces to go through detailed mission planning and tactical procedures allowing greater strength by, with and through our partnership,” said a jump master leading the special tactics operators on the airborne operations.

Rondon explained there were two primary purposes of the jump: to conduct specialized airlift missions for special operations teams and to strengthen international relations.

“We were here to provide a stable C-130 operating platform while enhancing the aircrew’s expertise and the user’s capabilities,” said Maj. R. Oscar Rondon, 94th Operations Support Squadron commander and lead aircraft commander. “Working together requires understanding their needs and requirements which can be achieved with solid communications.”

Being “Reserve Ready” is a mantra of the U.S. Air Force Reserve and the Friendship Jump provided everyone involved – from the flight planners to the jumpers – real world experience to take home.

“This is my first experience with Exercise Eager Lion,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Fenimore, a 700th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. “The Friendship Jump being the pinnacle event of the exercise was great to be a part of because it taught me how to overcome language barriers.”

September 5, 2019 - A U.S. soldier gets jump wings pinned on for his participation in the Friendship Jump during Exercise Eager Lion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Kincaid)
September 5, 2019 - A U.S. soldier gets jump wings pinned on for his participation in the Friendship Jump during Exercise Eager Lion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Kincaid)

Given the nature of the job, environmental factors also played a role in language barriers.

“An open hatch at a couple thousand feet can be extremely loud, making it even more difficult to communicate," Fenimore said. "Having a thorough briefing on the ground over hand signals was crucial to the success of the mission and that is something that will stick with me for future jumps.”

A friendship begins with a clear understanding of one another and being mindful of the other person’s beliefs.

“Our biggest takeaway from this jump is that over communicating when dealing with other nations is key to flexibility," Rondon said. "Many of the participants are experts in their career fields, but we must work together to get the job done. This requires a clear understanding of the requirements and potential changes.”

“You have to ensure the instructions are clear while being respectful and mindful of other people’s cultures,” said Rondon. “Having each participant focus on the big picture resulted in a successful exercise.”

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