A joint counter-terrorism exercise between troops from Pakistan and US armies concluded on Thursday. The joint exercise called ‘Inspired Gambit’ was taking place in South Carolina, USA, the military’s media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations said.

The aim of the nine-day long exercise was to gain experience from each other in the domain of counter-terrorism and counter IED operations. Troops from Special Services Group and Aviation participated in the exercise.

Earlier this month, Pakistan Air Force pilots received appreciation for bringing unique set of skills to US air exercises, which allowed the Pakistan and US air forces to continue building and strengthening their relationship.

Pakistan Air Force F-16C/D aircraft travelled over 7,700 miles to participate in Red Flag 16-4 exercises in Washington from August 15 to 26. “Pakistan brought a unique set of skills to the exercise, from their willingness to collaborate to their motivation to get the most out of the training scenarios,” an American general said, according to the US Air Force News Service (AFNS).

“The F-16 has been the lynchpin in accomplishing our mutual desired objectives,” Air Vice Marshal Syed Noman Ali said. “At the strategic level it has been extremely valuable. On the capability enhancement and objective achievement on the ground, this aircraft has been the most useful,” he added.

The exercise provided forces of both countries the chance to improve integration, further training and enhance the readiness of air operations.

For Major General Rick B Mattson, chief of the US Office of the Defense Representative in Pakistan, it was “absolutely phenomenal to have a partner who looked at this as an opportunity to not only get better as a force but also to better integrate with everyone else.”

“That has been a major focus for the team that has been here and I have already heard about ways they are able to integrate better through technology and we will try to work on that part.” Mattson further appreciated the efforts of not only the Pakistan pilots, but also their maintenance team.

“I have a lot of experience in the Middle East and this is a very unique capability that they have,” Mattson said. “When you go through the maintenance facility, bays, it’s all Pakistan enlisted working on these aircraft.” According to the AFNS report, integration has been a major focus for Red Flag 16-4 exercises in which the PAF played a key role.

“When you have a force that is that professional and is dedicated to training and working together as a coalition you are going to get better as a group and I think that has been the biggest lesson from this,” Mattson said adding that the exercise had helped both air forces learn each other’s strengths and utilise those strengths in real-world situations.

“Whenever we’ve been together with the US in terms of an exercise or other engagements it has been amazing, productive and mutually rewarding experience on both sides,” Air Vice Marshal Ali said. “Whether its actual strategies that have been going on in the region or it has been exercises that train for certain events, I would expect this type of relationship to grow stronger in the future,” he said.