by Airman 1st Class Brigitte N. Brantley-Sisk
23rd Wing Public Affairs
6/3/2011 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- During a visit June 2, the French defense and air attachés from the Embassy of France in D.C. visited Moody to experience what life is like for the two French exchange pilots currently serving with the 23rd Wing.
It was the first visit to Moody for Général de Division Aérienne (Maj. Gen.) Gratien Maire, French defense attaché to the U.S., and the second visit for Col. Vincent Cousin, French air attaché to the U.S.
"Many countries interact through training and exercises, but actually having pilots exchange positions gets to the heart of the matter," said General Maire. "It's great for the service members to know each other as much as possible because you'll never know when you'll have to work together."
The two French pilots assigned here are Commandant (Major) Yann Malard, 75th Fighter Squadron A-10C Thunderbolt II pilot, and Capitaine (Captain) Sebastian Alvarez, 41st Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk pilot, who are each serving a three-year tour.
The general and colonel visited both the 75th and the 41st, where they discussed ongoing operations and were shown the capabilities of the A-10 and HH-60.
"It has been a great adventure having the chance to visit the Flying Tigers and seeing their capabilities," said General Maire. "The mission here is wonderful and I'm very impressed at the level our pilots have been integrated with the units they are in.
"There is not just a single theater of war that we're fighting in," the general added. "We don't know when political leaders will need us to work together, so having a program like this helps us learn more about how Americans operate."
Col. Gary Henderson, 23rd WG commander, agrees that having this relationship with a NATO ally is mutually beneficial.
"I have never deployed to a place that didn't have French forces serving there as well," said Colonel Henderson. "It's super valuable for us to have Major Malard and Captain Alvarez integrated with our units because we learn a bit more about how the French air force operates.
"As a smaller force, they have certain procedures and tactics we can learn from," he added. "Not all militaries are like ours and so it's good to learn as much as possible about our allies. When we deploy with other forces, it's helpful if we've built up that trust and confidence beforehand."
There are currently about 10 French exchange officers assigned to the Air Force, and about 60 total exchange officers serving in all branches of the American military.
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga.-- Lt. Col. David Trucksa, 75th Fighter Squadron commander, gives Général de Division Aérienne (Maj. Gen.) Gratien Maire, French defense attaché to the U.S., an up-close look at an A-10C Thunderbolt II during a base visit June 2. Colonel Trucksa explained some of the controls and components on the A-10 and compared it to the French Mirage 2000D. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Green) Hi-res