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LEAP Spotlight: Maj. Julio “Baxter” Arizmendi Laclaustra

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  • By AFCLC Outreach Team

“I was taught early in life that Opportunity + Preparation = Success; therefore, when the opportunity showed up, I was prepared yet in need of other important factors, such as family support and the mentoring and development from some key fellow aviators.

“I was honored to have attended Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, for undergraduate pilot training. My follow-on aircraft and Major Weapon System was the B-52H while stationed in the 23d Bomb Squadron in Minot, North Dakota. I subsequently became a T-38C Instructor and Evaluator Pilot at Laughin Air Force Base, Texas, for Phase 3 instruction of the United States Air Force and eight other allied/partner countries’ young officers.

“I am currently assigned as an Exchange Officer and Instructor Pilot attached to the Military Personnel and Exchange Program with our NATO ally Spain, flying the CASA C-101 at the ’Ejército del Aire‘ pilot training equivalent program.

“In my current duties, I instruct Spain’s next-generation aviators. I communicate mainly in Spanish with both my unit and all outside agencies to achieve our mission toward producing professional officers, pilots and warriors. Graduating from the Air Command and Staff College has further enhanced my understanding and the importance of forming international bonds. It has amplified my understanding of partner air forces’ needs and capabilities along with the importance behind our interoperability such that when we get to work with each other in combat operations or ambassadorial duties, we can communicate efficiently. I have reunited with one of my best friends and fellow student pilots from ENJJPT on my current station. Today, once again, we both get to form part of the same squadron, but this time as flight instructors while in his home country. This is a prime indicator behind the importance to establish strong and meaningful partnerships early on.

“I first found out about the Language Enabled Airman Program at the Air Force Culture and Language Center while in ROTC when my Detachment Commander and early mentor Lt. Col. Delucca notified me about the opportunity to join the program. I was interested and excited to grow professionally while enhancing my cultural and language abilities. As military officers to one of the most powerful and talented global air forces, we should strive to build partnerships and understanding of our allies and partner countries to ensure synergy and interoperability to effectively defeat our adversaries and retain air, space and cyberspace supremacy.

“I earned an undergraduate degree in Aircraft Airway Science Management from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, Bayamón Campus, and a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Brandman University in California. I’m a 2010 Reserve Officers’ Training Corps commissioned officer from DET 755 in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, where I was also selected to join LEAP.

“While in LEAP, I have attended Language Intensive Training Events in Costa Rica, Spain and the United States Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia. I took the opportunity to cross-train to Brazilian Portuguese and have completed multiple eMentor courses and assisted previous units with language and cultural expertise when the mission needed it most.

“My experiences with LEAP have been overwhelmingly positive and have shaped my persona, both professionally and personally. It has been filled with fun endeavors that few form part of, interestingly not due to a lack of talent, but from unawareness of the program, its purpose and requirements.

“LEAP has been a life and career-changing opportunity and one that cannot be passed. I consider myself approachable, therefore if anyone looks for guidance and mentoring about flying, international experiences or LEAP, I would be humbled to expand on any of the subjects. Equally, if anyone desires to provide me further development in leadership and international opportunities, I would be thrilled to have quality conversations about how I can further impact our future interoperability and boost my development.

“I aspire to not only make positive impacts in my family and friend’s lives but our air force and our allies as well. I am a firm believer in faith, family and country. I am leadership and people-centric, as there is no mission without the No. 1 resource: people.”
--Spanish LEAP Scholar Maj. Julio “Baxter” Arizmendi Laclaustra

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