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Language Enabled Airmen Build Partnerships Through IAAFA Course in Colombia

  • Published
  • By Mikala McCurry, AFCLC Outreach Team

Five Language Enabled Airmen Program Scholars joined approximately 60 Colombian Air Force, Army, and Navy members in a six-week Inter-American Squadron Officer Course and Inter-American Non-Commissioned Officer Course in Colombia for professional military education. 

These programs immerse service members worldwide in leadership, team building, and management themes through in-classroom and field events.

“Adding U.S. Air Force students is not only a unique experience for our military members, but it also increases interoperability,” said Master Sgt. Victor Alvarez, 837th Training Squadron senior enlisted leader. “There is also a logistical advantage to our partner nation by allowing us to bring the course to them and allow for more students to learn the curriculum.” 

LEAP Scholars Senior Master Sgt. Antonio Vazquez, Jr. and Master Sgt. Jaime Diaz were the first LEAP Scholars to be selected to attend the course directly through LEAP as a Language Intensive Training Event to enhance their language skills and to prepare them for joint leadership dexterity.

For Vazquez, this LITE allowed him to strengthen his language fluency while integrating with allies and partners, which were challenges charged to Airmen in the new National Defense Strategy.

“This LITE enabled me to strengthen my language skills while building stronger relations with our Colombian military partners,” he said. “This experience will also help me better integrate with my Japanese counterparts at my current assignment, as I was able to develop better ways to communicate with foreign military personnel and share my experiences with them.”

This experience marked a “culmination of work in LEAP” for Diaz. 

“From going on LITEs to increasing my proficiency in the language and attending eMentor courses, it led to the pinnacle of Enlisted development in the Air Force,” he said. “This mission continued to strengthen security cooperation and the Air Force mission with our Colombian military partners. By understanding how certain operational capabilities are conducted by both countries, this event enabled a dynamic awareness of key military processes and how to improve the standards and procedures from the Colombian and U.S military to further develop our forces.” 

Diaz also valued the integral partnership built with the Colombian military and the understanding of key aspects of bilateral relationships between partner nations as essential to bolster diplomatic relations.

“As we develop ourselves in the SNCO ranks of the military, we are expected to know strategic and operational practices to fortify the bonds in a joint environment to lead our forces to accomplish all contingency mission requirements,” he explained.

Overall, the course allowed U.S. Airmen to integrate with allies and partners to enhance professional military education for both the USAF and partner militaries.
“This experience was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will help me become a better leader and will hopefully allow me to integrate with South and Central American partners in the future,” Vazquez said. “It’s amazing to see that we cannot only teach our personnel to be great leaders, but we also share this with partner nations around the world.”

While IAAFA is primarily an in-residence institution, mobile training teams give partner nations more training opportunities and allow the Academy to further support the National Defense Strategy and U.S. Air Force security cooperation objectives. 

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