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NEWS | May 27, 2010

IAAFA hosts senior enlisted leaders conference

By Mike Joseph 502nd Air Base Wing OL-A Public Affairs

Top senior enlisted military leaders from 22 partner Latin American and Caribbean nations shared common issues and established personal lines of communication at an Inter-American Air Forces Academy conference May 17-22 on Lackland.

It was the first conference specifically designed for those partner nations' senior enlisted leaders to collectively discuss enlisted issues and collect information about IAAFA's education and training programs.

"This is an historic event for IAAFA," said Chief Master Sgt. Andres Alvarez, IAAFA superintendent. "The key was to bring them here so they could see what capabilities (IAAFA offers) for developing their enlisted personnel and officers.

"(They will take) information about the courses we offer and the opportunities available home. It was important to not only share senior enlisted issues but also discuss common ground and what programs we need to provide."

The conference was a chance to develop personal partnerships and support common mission requirements, Chief Alvarez said. He added the focus was common themes shared as senior enlisted leaders, and exposure to enlisted development, education and training, and personnel programs provided at IAAFA, Lackland and Randolph for Airmen.

Chief Master Sgt. Harold Clark, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) command chief master sergeant, said IAAFA's ability to provide education and training to partner nations in the Air Forces Southern and Northern Commands is a top priority for theater engagement plans.

"What we can do (is absolutely limitless), but the overall objective is enhanced regional stability," Chief Clark said. "We've found over the years if we work with each other, we're stronger and regional stability is increased."

Chief Clark also said the formal and informal discussions will aid in the continued development of common ground templates for unified responses to natural disasters, countering narcotics trafficking and fighting narco-terrorism.

Jamaican Defense Force Sgt. Major Errol McKenzie hopes the conference becomes a yearly event that will serve to further enhance the region's partnerships.

"We can achieve and be successful only if we come together, work together, help and learn from each other; then we can be able to secure our nations," he said. "I leave here having made friends for life."

Uruguay Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Raul Parapar said he discovered a common thread of issues by exchanging and sharing information with his counterparts, and picked up ideas on recruiting and teaching methods.

"I'll share the information and what I've learned with my colleagues so in the future the efforts will be synergized with other countries," he said through an interpreter. "I have never been to IAAFA before and it showed me the different capabilities (available) to our instructors."