By Senior Airman Ashlee Galloway, Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs / Published February 06, 2014
JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. (AFNS) --
As the sun begins to rise over the Australian outback, the very same sun is setting for Royal Australian air force Sgt. Daniel Humphreys, currently assigned to the 17th Airlift Squadron as an exchange loadmaster. Humphreys will be calling Charleston, S.C., his home for the next few years.
In exchange for Humphreys, the U.S. Air Force is sending Tech. Sgt. Joshua Watson, a 15th AS loadmaster, to Australia.
"I've always wanted to live in another country," Humphreys said. "This exchange program is a great opportunity for me and my family; on top of that, I get to live the American lifestyle for a few years."
The first C-17 Globemaster III for the RAAF was delivered in 2007, and the C-17 Globemaster III exchange program with the U.S. Air Force began around 2008 at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. The program relocated to Joint Base Charleston, S.C. in 2010.
The C-17 exchange program consists of exchanging one pilot and one loadmaster from the RAAF with a team from the U.S. Air Force. The exchange allows for both parties to gain more knowledge on how the aircraft operates and to learn about each country's cultural differences.
"Since the U. S. Air Force is the primary user of the C-17 and owns 223 of the world's Globemaster IIIs, the Australian air force allows us to go to their country and teach the lessons we've learned and demonstrate certain practices," said Watson, who is leaving for Australia mid-February. "Culturally, each of us has different tactics and techniques, so it allows us to learn from them, and in turn they can learn more from us."
Each air force has requirements that individuals have to have to be eligible to apply.
While the U.S. allows Airmen to become loadmasters as soon as they graduate from basic training and technical school, the Australian air force has different procedures. After working at different levels of careers in the RAAF, Airmen are eligible to train as loadmasters. Once they acquire the title of loadmaster, they become a sergeant, which is equivalent to a U.S. Air Force master sergeant.
For the exchange program, RAAF Airmen must have a minimum of 500 flying hours and have to have obtained specific qualifications in their career field. RAAF Airmen then have their application packages routed through their chain of command, who comment on each individual to ensure the most qualified candidate is chosen. U.S. Airmen must also have a certain number of flying hours. Being a schoolhouse evaluator or a lead evaluator for the Special Operations Low Level II program is a plus. Individuals must also be technical sergeants or above to be eligible. Each application package is then sent to the Airman's functional for review, and if approved, will be sent to the Pentagon for assessment.
No. 36 Squadron, RAAF Base Amberley, the only RAAF base that has C-17s, has future plans to open a schoolhouse at their air base. With Watson previously being a lead schoolhouse evaluator at Altus AFB, Okla.; he will be a key person to help get that started in his time in Australia. The training right now for a loadmaster is only held at Altus AFB and individuals from other air forces will train there as well.
The C-17 exchange is a three-year assignment, but both Airmen may be given the option of extending it to four years.
"I have traveled to America a bit and it has always been awesome working with the Americans," Humphreys said. "We rely on Americans a lot. I am a big fan of the country; I'm excited to see how the other side works and to gain life experience."
"I am fortunate to be able to participate in a program like this," Watson said. "This is one opportunity that people don't usually get to take part in. This is a very exciting experience and I'm looking forward to being a part of everything Australia has to offer."