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NEWS | May 18, 2020

IAAFA adapts during COVID-19, continues international PME

By Rachel Kersey 37th Training Wing Public Affairs

In March 2020, when the nation started shelter-in-place orders due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Inter-American Air Forces Academy at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, which forges international friendship and security cooperations through education and training, coordinated for all of their international students to return to their home countries.

Despite relocations, IAAFA got back up and running with distance learning courses facilitated by videoconferencing software and thanks to that, IAAFA’s Alpha Class of 2020 graduated May 15 via a virtual graduation ceremony.

“The current crisis gives IAAFA an opportunity to grow, develop new ways of teaching, and implement tools to enhance partner nations’ interoperability with the United States well into the future,” said Maj. Eduardo Barajas, Director of Operations for the 837th Training Squadron and chief operations officer for IAAFA Distance Learning. “These efforts reassure our partners that IAAFA, despite the current pandemic crisis, is open for business.”

The cohort consists of 30 students in Mexico and Colombia and well as students from other nations throughout Central and South America. 

“Colombia and Mexico are IAAFA’s biggest customers and long-enduring partners,” Barajas said. “ IAAFA is able to teach students from these countries thanks to the Classroom of the Future and Distance Learning capabilities. COVID-19 didn't stop them from getting to graduate today.”

Some of the courses taught were International Logistics, Basic Instructor Course, Cyber Security, and Cyber Network.

Students in this Alpha Cycle were able to participate in this virtual graduation from anywhere in the world May 15. Alpha Cycle was the beta test for the Bravo Cycle which will continue which takes place from June 1 to Aug. 28 via distance learning.

What instructors experienced and learned while dealing with technological challenges during Alpha Cycle allowed the IAAFA team to establish best practices and prepare for how to make the 15 classes in Bravo Cycle’s that much more successful.

But the IAAFA staff doesn’t intend to stop there. Although COVID-19 was a surprise for all involved, the academy sees its adaptation as the beginning of a new era, inaugurating a long-term International distance learning capability.

“By maintaining a strong partnership with our allies in Latin America, IAAFA’s efforts to provide distance learning to partner nations will continue to make IAAFA the partner of choice for security cooperation programs,” Barajas said.