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Strengthening Partnerships

Laughter and conversation fills the room as Airmen from the U.S. Air Force and Royal Malaysian air force (RMAF) sit intermingled with each other at Subang Air Base, Malaysia, for the exercise Cope Taufan 18 (CT18) closing ceremony, July 20, 2018.

In this same room one week ago, the participants of this bilateral exercise inadvertently separated themselves, splitting the room between the two nations. They now share a friendly bond as professional tactical airlift technicians.

“The most important thing about [the U.S.] participating in exercises like this is building relationships,” said Maj. Gen. James Eifert, Air National Guard assistant to the commander, Pacific Air Forces. “They give [the U.S.] the opportunity to work side by side with our allies while strengthening partnerships, which ultimately benefits both countries.”

Primarily a fighter centered exercise, CT18 focused on tactical mobility and provided an excellent opportunity to improve combined readiness and interoperability between the U.S. and Malaysia. It allowed for the exchange of techniques related to air superiority, tactical airlift and airdrop, airborne command and control, and close air support.

“The complexity of this exercise has never been greater,” Eifert said. “From the low-cost, low-altitude drops to the high velocity container delivery system bundles, leading up to personnel air drops with unfamiliar low-level flying and formation flying, our air forces expanded the combined airlift capabilities of both nations.

During the closing ceremony, RMAF Maj. Gen. Zahani Zainal Abidin, Air Operation Command Headquarters Chief of Staff, briefed on this year’s exercise accomplishments, and stated that the training had a combined 90 percent success rate, despite airspace clearance conflicts and aircraft issues.

“This Cope Taufan has been a little different than what we have done in the past,” Zahani said. “But we have witnessed first-hand the potential and advantages of strengthening our tactical airlift.”

Zahani mentioned during his speech that the long-standing relationship between both nations is strong and exercises like CT18 continue to strengthen that bond.

“I truly hope that [the U.S.] enjoyed its time here in Malaysia,” Zahani said. “Our bilateral relationship between the U.S. has been very long, about 61 years. We treasure this partnership and will continue to grow together to ensure peace and stability of the region.”

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