DVIDS – News – Forward Operating Location Curaçao welcomes the addition of a Royal Netherlands Air Force MQ-9

The United States Southern Command and, in turn, the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) and the 474th Air Expeditionary Group/612th Theater Operations Group strive to implement the national defense strategy in the USSOUTHCOM area of ​​responsibility (AOR) by focusing on three key lines of effort (LOEs): Strengthen partnerships, counteract threats and build our team.

As members of these organizations strive to accomplish these efforts, it is rare for a single event or operation to encompass all three in their entirety. The successful deployment of the Dutch MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle system at the Cooperative Security location on the island of Curacao is the first of its kind in the Caribbean.

“This endeavor will leave everyone involved stronger, more agile and ready for any call that may come our way. We really are better together,” said the 429th EOS Commander, Lt. Col Don Morris.

The Royal Netherlands Armed Forces deployed aircraft, personnel and support equipment in cooperation with the 429th Expeditionary Operations Squadron (429th EOS). which gave their pilots the opportunity to maximize training with an unencumbered airspace. The 429th EOS was a key element of the mission’s success, providing facilities, logistical support and mutual assistance to bring the first MQ-9s into the country, thereby fulfilling two LOEs – strengthening partnerships and building the team.

The United States Consulate General in Curaçao, Margy Bond, said in her speech at the opening ceremony, “This deployment marks a new highpoint… in the close relationship between the Royal Netherlands Armed Forces and the Armed Forces of the United States of America.”

These efforts benefit not only the pilots and sensor operators, but also the United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) Counternarcotics (CN) mission. One of the MQ-9’s key functions is intelligence gathering, reconnaissance and surveillance (ISR) intelligence; Those friendly eyes in the sky help identify corridors for drug trafficking. These MQ-9 ISR assets will assist in deterring and apprehending drug smugglers and result in increased seizures of illegal drugs traversing the Caribbean waterways. This is a great example of how strengthening partnerships and building our team enhances our ability to implement the third LOE for countering threats.

“Planning and execution leading up to this deployment required close cooperation between the armed forces of our two countries, demonstrating the commitment to the multinational counter-narcotics mission in the Caribbean Basin,” added Bond.

As operations began and continued to develop, US Air Force Col. Cory Christoffer, 474th Air Expeditionary Group and 612th Theater Operations Group, summed up the significance of this event by saying, “On a tactical level, we are grateful for the relationships and the friends we made. On an operational level we are grateful for what the future may hold in the Caribbean and on a strategic level we are very grateful for the global partnership we are able to cement with the Netherlands at this location.”

Date of recording: 04/22/2022
Release Date: 05/26/2022 17:32
Story ID: 421672
Location: cw

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