114th FW exchanges personnel with the Royal Air Force

JOE FOSS FIELD, S.D. -- Through the Military Reserve Exchange Program (MREP), the 114th Fighter Wing hosted Royal Air Force (RAF) Reservist Flt. Lt. Andy Wolfe, 607 Squadron (County of Durham), logistics flight commander, here, May 30-June 11.

MREP is a reciprocal exchange program which provides Guard and Reserve members, both officer and enlisted, the opportunity to train with select foreign allied nations and gain a better understanding how foreign powers operate.

Lt. Col. Scott Rust, South Dakota Air National Guard plans officer, is blazing the trail for the 114th FW as he is the first unit member to participate in the exchange program. Wolfe is slated to host Rust in the United Kingdom from July 17-28. In both cases, each host has the opportunity to display their readiness to their guest from another nation and learn from the visiting foreign participant.

“It’s really a career broadening experience,” said Rust. “We are now working together more and more and we aren’t just Active Duty, Guard or Reserve, you are now seeing the international partners of the UK/Australia/Germany for example, so it’s important that you understand their culture and what their needs and goals are too.”

Wolfe, who is a consultant for an oil services company and recycles bicycles for charity, commented that the program has aspirations to increase its utilization and locations throughout the world.

In the Fiscal Year 2017, 84 applications were submitted in the Air National Guard and 16 chosen for the program. The States/Territories selected to participate in the program will host a foreign reserve exchange selectee in return from either the United Kingdom, Germany, Estonia, or Denmark.

“I encourage anybody to apply,” said Rust, who is a procurement manager for the city of Sioux Falls on the civilian side of life. “The Guard has done a good job of giving us opportunities, and we need to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to us.”

This opportunity has provided Wolfe with insight on how the 114th FW supports both the State and the Federal mission. He has toured many shops on base and spent time learning how the base operates, runs the logistics and day-to-day activities.

“We operate in quite a different way, we don’t have force elements as a squadron, we don’t have jets, we don’t have a base like the 114th FW,” said Wolfe. “We are a lodger unit on a conventional Regular RAF Base and we work to provide trained manpower and readiness to be used as a resource by the wider Air Force on enduring operations, both at home and abroad.”

Both Wolfe and Rust agreed building these relationships could benefit our allied forces down the road, so when they work with allied militaries they could use these relationships and experiences to enhance future relationships.

“It just builds a better working relationship getting to better understand each other,” said Rust. “You can’t do that just being at an exercise for a week or two, so that is what really intrigued me to have the opportunity to sit down and get to know them and see how they really do business.”

For more information visit: http://www.people.mil/Inside-M-RA/Reserve-Integration/Military-Reserve-Exchange-Program/ or the MREP Facebook page.