MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --
One of our very own Swamp Fox Defenders, Capt. Bakari Prioleau, the 169th Security Forces Squadron operations officer here, recently earned the opportunity to train with the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force.
Prioleau teamed up with the 609 Squadron Auxiliary Forces at RAF Leeming in Northallerton, England, for a two-week annual training period, as part of the Military Reserve Exchange Program. The training proceeded to multiple areas and bases throughout England, to include RAF Northolt and RAF Honington.
Cultural acclimation, historical lessons, land navigation, basic law enforcement functions and a real-world emergency response for a mountain area rescue were experienced by Prioleau while with the RAF.
Prioleau learned about the exchange program through the National Guard Bureau and submitted his application to be a candidate after 169th Security Forces Squadron commander, Lt. Col. Paul Laymon, encouraged him to go for the opportunity.
“The program is designed to build rapport and to help prepare service members professionally for deployment and integration with NATO forces,” said Prioleau.
The intent of the exchange program is to increase awareness of culture, professional development and training within NATO forces to better understand what other militaries do.
Prioleau joined his RAF Reserve counterpart, Flt. Lt. Tom Eckersley at Leeming and worked together exchanging experiences, training, and learning from each other.
“You want to foster international cooperation, develop rapport and develop that long-term relationship,” said Prioleau. “The intent was met and exceeded. My experience during this exchange was immeasurable.”
Learning the history and culture from the RAF was one of the biggest fulfillments for Prioleau.
“What I gained from them is the history aspect, really instilling what’s important, what matters, and what can be carried on to the next generation and being able to use that to encourage someone. Because we learn a great deal from our past and those that don’t understand the past are doomed to repeat it, as the old saying goes,” said Prioleau.
Prioleau looks forward to applying the experiences he gained from participating in the exchange program with his Swamp Fox Defenders and hopes that his contributions to the 609 Squadron will aid in their training and processes as well.
“It’s like my commander says, ‘You have to always continue to improve your defenses.’ That’s the mentality and that’s the thought process that will be taken from this experience and any other experience in the future,” said Prioleau.