JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
Twelve weeks after the start of their academic training, military students from eight partner nations across Latin America and the U.S. walked across the stage to accept graduation certificates and their much-anticipated wings from the Inter-American Air Forces Academy at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland April 28.
The wings, highly recognized in Latin America as IAAFA’s symbol of security cooperation, and recently approved for eligible USAF members, were awarded to more than 120 students during this first training cycle of 2022.
The occasion brought together Air Force and city leaders including Kelli Seybolt, deputy undersecretary of the Air Force, International Affairs; Maj. Gen. Barry R. Cornish, 12th Air Force commander; and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
The daylong event kicked off with a graduation ceremony followed by a visit to the academy where Seybolt and Cornish met with IAAFA leaders and its members to discuss the academy’s mission, strategy and impact in support of U.S. Air Force and theater strategic objectives. They also coined several IAAFA members in recognition of their contributions to the security cooperation mission and the 12th Air Force.
Later that evening, Seybolt served as the banquet’s keynote speaker.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and am thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of this graduating class,” Seybolt told the graduates. “For many, this marks the end of your studies here at IAAFA. But today also marks a new beginning for each of you who will return to your countries with new skills … and perhaps new perspectives as well.”
The banquet kicked off with a toast delivered by the lowest ranking student of the graduating class, Cabo Segundo Karim Concepcion of Panama’s National Police, and Lt. Col. Terry Nail, IAAFA interim deputy commandant.
The festivities also included performances by mariachi musicians and Folklorico dancers.
Members recognized during the event included Sargento Segundo Ahmed Barsallo Santos of Panama’s National Police, who earned the Academic Award for the highest grade point average in the enlisted category; and Teniente de Corbeta Ignacio D. Nuñez Cueli of the Argentine Navy, who won the same award in the officer category.
“Now more than ever in its almost 80-year history, the Inter-American Air Forces Academy is accelerating its modernization and recapitalization strategies to meet the demands of a fast-changing security cooperation environment, and you are part of this movement,” said Col. José Jiménez Jr., IAAFA commandant, in a speech to the graduates.
“As IAAFA continues to serve its role as a key element of the United States Air Force’s security cooperation enterprise … I challenge you to serve as a center of excellence for your nation's defense and security mechanisms. Take the knowledge you learned at IAAFA and apply it to make your organizations better,” Jiménez said.