25 July 2014 --
NASSAU, Bahamas - Members of the Rhode Island Air National Guard's 143d Airlift Wing from the Civil Engineering Squadron (CES), Force Support Squadron (FSS) and Public Affairs Department (PA) launched its inaugural group DFT (Deployment For Training) to support the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) at the Coral Harbour Base on June 14-27, 2014.
The National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP) is a United States Department of Defense program managed by the National Guard that links U.S. States with partner countries around the world for the purpose of supporting the security cooperation objectives of the geographic Combatant Commands. By linking U.S. states with designated partner countries, the SPP aims to promote access, enhance military capabilities, improve interoperability and enhance the principles of responsible governance. Furthermore, the SPP aims to foster the integration of reserve and active component forces into a "total force."
Begun in December 2005 the Rhode Island National Guard State Partnership with the Bahamas has generated a series of cooperative initiatives ranging from disaster preparedness to business cooperation and university partnerships. Some positive benefits from the program are;
- Provides experience and training for Guardsmen
- Develops relationships with partner country
- Encourages partners to co-deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan
- Improves retention or provides other incentives for Guardsmen
- Guardsmen benefit from partner country's experiences
- Improve military interoperability between US and Partner Nation forces
During this recent DFT, the 143d CES provided their expertise on a joint mission with Bahamian engineers of the RBDF on several projects around the base. The Structures/Heavy Equipment shop helped with a newly begun, on-going construction project of the women's barracks/latrine. The project consisted of rough interior framing on the first and second floors and included the framing of the roof. The team worked side-by-side with their Bahamian counterparts to complete the roof project. The shop tackled numerous tasks which involved an added welding project. A steel fence post was repaired for the front gate and they installed new steel cage stairs to block off a high voltage area. The Power Pro Shop along with their colleagues provided rough electrical installation, a new electrical panel and a smoke detector/life safety system in the new building. The Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) shop contributed to the mission by completing several trouble shooting tasks to include; compressor changes, repair of wall units/split ac, central air systems and portable air units. The Water and Fuels Systems Maintenance (WFSM) shop shared their expertise to the task by finishing rough plumbing, rough water main feed and overall base survey for the water system. They also repaired numerous pressure issues and helped trouble shoot the cross-connection problems Coral Harbour was experiencing. In addition, the WFSM shop took on an assignment to demo old tile on the balcony of the Training Building overlooking the Parade Grounds.
The Force Support structure is intended to streamline processes, maximize customer service and cut the costs of maintaining separate organizations and that's what the 143d Force Support Squadron sought to do. They provided three hot meals per day for over 33 personnel totaling up to 1,400 meals executed in addition to daily supply runs to the local markets. FSS worked hand-and-hand with RBDF cooks creating spectacular dishes with a Bahamian twist for the Airmen. They accommodated members with dietary constrictions and/or food allergies while maintaining a stringent budget.
The addition of Public Affairs allowed the group to connect with local counterparts and also provided the opportunity for members to participate in the Commissioning Ceremony of her Majesty's Bahamian Ship, Arthur Dion Hanna on Kelly's Dock in Downtown Nassau. PA also documented the inaugural DFT with photojournalism and video support.
Fostering positive foreign relations is a key mission of the National Guard through the State Partnership Program. "This trip has been a great beginning in what will hopefully be a continued partnership between Rhode Island Air National Guard and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. The Bahamians have offered outstanding support to our Airmen at their base and it's exciting to see the teamwork and friendships that have developed from the construction sites to the kitchen during just a short period of time," said Major Kathleen Mahoney, 143d Civil Engineering Squadron, DFT/ OIC. The Bahamas DFT 2014 was not only a successful mission, but it also allowed our members to shine and fulfill their annual training in a real world environment, actively engaging in the ongoing U.S. National Guard State Partnership Program with the Bahamas.