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JBSA News
NEWS | Oct. 3, 2008

IAAFA Squadron Officer School in Spanish opens to captains

By Adalberto Ramirez Inter-American Air Forces Academy

Two Airmen made history here when they graduated from IAAFA's Squadron Officer School.

Captains Pedro Gonzalez and David Arroyo were among 11 students who graduated from the Spanish-speaking course at the Inter-American Air Forces Academy Aug. 25.

"This was a great opportunity and an awesome experience," Captain Gonzalez said. "This has opened my eyes not only to the leadership training the Air Force provides, but to a better understanding of issues in the United States Southern Command arena."

This new opportunity offers fluent Spanish-speaking captains the chance to complete their basic development education at IAAFA while receiving full in-residence professional military education credit. The course is done at the company grade officer level, targeting captains interested in future regional affairs specialist assignments and helping captains develop contacts in the region at an early stage in their careers.

The purpose of this course is not only to develop leaders, but to develop enduring partnerships, opening doors for Air Force captains to become international affairs specialists later in their careers and work with coalition partners they may have met here.
The IAAFA course curriculum mirrors SOS at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., and is recognized by Air University as an equivalent officer PME course.

"We have been working hard to incorporate Air Force captains and it's great to see this effort come to a reality," said Curtis Whorton, Air Education and Training Command training and development manager. "This is thinking outside the box and history in the making."

Azalea Johnson, Program Manager in charge of PME at the Air Force Personnel Center, explained the program's benefits.

"This program expanded slots for officer PME, and we will work the selection process with the major commands. Candidates should ensure they have taken the Spanish defense language proficiency test so they can be prospects for prescreening."

Training with international servicemembers was gratifying for Captain Arroyo.

"We developed a great bond since we share similar operational issues and the demands of the course make you build a tight team," he said during the graduation ceremony where students not only received their diploma, but also were awarded IAAFA's wings, a highly coveted and recognized symbol among Latin American militaries.

Lt. Col. Carlos Vecino, 837th TRS commander, indicated that future plans may include incorporating company grade officers from sister services to promote jointness and the possibility of conducting a future course at a host nation location in the region.

For now, Captains Gonzalez and Arroyo leave IAAFA's very unique teaching institution with the tools not only to become better Air Force leaders, but also better regional leaders.