LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
Two Airmen are making history as the first Air Force NCOs to attend the Inter-American Air Forces Academy NCO Academy.
In addition to earning NCO academy enlisted professional military education credit, Tech. Sgts. Leonardo Cepero Febres and George Nikolakakos are studying alongside NCOs from Guatemala, Peru and Honduras. They are learning traditional NCOA objectives while building partnerships and learning about the Latin American NCOs and their perspectives.
According to Chief Master Sgt. Andres Alvarez, IAAFA superintendent, admitting U.S. Air Force NCOs into the Spanish-speaking course supports the priorities of top Air Force leaders while enhancing relationships with Latin American countries.
"Chief Roy visited IAAFA in June. During the tour, he pointed out (leadership's) priority to increase (Air Force) cross-cultural competence and capabilities by creating and strengthening coalition and partner nation relationships. Including U.S. Air Force NCOs in the INCOA aligns with that priority," he said.
"The experience will give our NCOs an invaluable immersion. (They) will get first-hand knowledge of our partner nations' military, political and cultural issues that impact our Inter-American relationships. The NCOs will (learn) that we are all Americans with common problems," Chief Alvarez said.
The chief added that while studying and learning leadership principles together, the Airmen will form important career-long bonds. Those relationships will go a long way, ultimately contributing to strengthening partner nation alliances and supporting humanitarian missions in the Western Hemisphere.
Air Force NCOs will also begin attending in-country INCOA courses in Bogota, Colombia, and Mexico City in 2011.
The program will promote joint and coalition force education and acculturation while giving Airmen an opportunity to understand Latin American military and civilian culture.
Chief Alvarez said instructors Senior Master Sgt. Jesus Compean, Senior Master Sgt. Benjamin Miranda and Master Sgt. Samuel Nunez are the linchpins making the partnership-building-vision a reality.
"IAAFA's goal is to teach the INCOA curriculum while sharing the knowledge, skills and abilities of U.S. Air Force NCOs with Latin American partners," he said.
NCOs interested in attending the INCOA must meet Air Force quality forces standards for enlisted PME attendance. Candidates must have a Community College of the Air Force degree and a Spanish language proficiency of at least 2+/2+.
Air Force Personnel Center enlisted PME scheduling is the primary office for eligibility and selection notification. For more information, contact IAAFA at IAAFA.CCEInbox@us.af.mil