ST. JOSEPH, Mo. --
Security and medical airmen from the 139th Airlift Wing taught security techniques, explosive ordnance recognition and emergency medical techniques to Panamanian Public Forces (PPF) in Panama last month as part of Missouri's State Partnership Program (SPP), a National Guard program designed to build partnerships with U.S. allies. The PPF participating in the exchange of information included Panama's secret service, marines and aeronaval agents.
Staff Sgt. Troy Green, security forces, said Missouri had previously sent National Guard mechanics, engineers, and medical personnel to Panama for an exchange of information, but this was the first time for security forces.
Green led classroom training for security and Staff Sgt. Matthew Jacobs led classroom training for medical, both translated by medical specialist Airman 1st Class Marina Salazar, followed by hands-on training in the Panamanian jungle, led by Staff Sgt. George Jasper from security forces.
During jungle training, the PPF learned about trip wires, traps, improvised explosive devices and dealing with medical trauma and emergencies. Medical emergencies in the thick jungle present significant challenges when immediate action is needed to save a life.
"They sometimes have to float injured people down the river to get them out of the jungle," explained Jasper when discussing medical evacuation emergencies and the difficulty of getting emergency personnel into the jungle.
Additionally, there was an old friendship rekindled between Jasper and one of the retired Panamanian explosive ordnance secret service members. They had met and worked together in 1985 during an exercise in Panama.
"The trust between us allowed a deeper camaraderie for the entire group," said Jasper.
Jacobs explained that the PPF were quite serious and pleased with the information exchange and asked the 139th airmen to return in the future to provide follow-on training.
Missouri joined the SPP in 1996, but Missouri has a long-standing relationship with Panama that began in 1985 when 9,500 troops were sent to construct or repair 42 kilometers of road over a 6-month period. Since then, according to the National Guard Bureau of International Affairs, "Missouri Guard members have participated in constructing or repairing over 200 kilometers of roads, 7 bridges, 27 schools, and 14 clinics in addition to drilling 13 wells."
For more information on Missouri's SPP, visit here