JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas. --
Representatives from 17 Western Hemisphere nations gathered for the Preliminary Planning conference the week of May 21 in preparation for the annual Conference of the Chiefs of the American Air Forces to discuss strategies on how partner nations can assist each other in the event of a humanitarian crisis.
This year PREPLAN was co-hosted by the Inter-American Air Forces Academy and the Secretary of the Air Force/International Affairs.
The System of Cooperation among American Air Forces is a voluntary and non-political organization dedicated to the promotion of its 20 partner nations. Each year, SICOFAA conducts the pre-planning conference as part of a three-year cycle of cooperation among partners.
U.S. Air Force Col. David Delmonaco, SICOFAA secretary general said the pre-planning discussions will be submitted to the Chiefs of Staff of the Western Hemisphere Air Forces for its CONJEFAMER conference held this June in Panama.
“We’ll take a snapshot of every conference we’ve done throughout the year and we’ll put it in the format for the Air Chiefs because they want to know that there’s value for the money they’re spending on this,” said Delmonaco.
Delmonaco added every nation faces budget constraints so it is important that the Air Chiefs know the system of cooperation between nations in the event of a humanitarian crisis when expenses occur.
Once CONJEFAMER is held, the nations will prepare for virtual exercises.
“We’re doing the virtual exercises in Mendoza, Argentina and there will still be various meetings throughout the year,” added Delmonaco. The virtual exercises will begin in April 2019.
Once virtual exercises are successfully completed, partner nations will prepare for the actual exercise.
“We’re sending equipment, aircraft and people and that’s all the nations,” Delmonaco said.
He recalled that the SICOFAA operational exercise in Chile was cancelled so partner nations could assist Mexico when an earthquake struck in September 2017. The organization’s forces played a role in the delivery of over 43 tons of supplies and helped evacuate more than 100 citizens.
SICOFAA member air forces also helped Peru when floods struck in March 2017. Approximately 103 tons of search and rescue and medical equipment was delivered. They also assisted in the evacuation of thousands of citizens.
Cycles like these keep the participating partner nations involved, according to Peruvian Air Force Col. Jorge E. Reátegui, SCICOFAA sub-secretary general.
“It’s important to SCICOFAA that cooperation takes place to implement positive relationships within our member nations so we can help each other in instances of humanitarian disaster,” said Reátegui.
Reátegui added holding the pre-planning conference in San Antonio is important because this is where IAAFA is based.
Deputy Director of the Panamanian National Air and Naval Service Gen. Luis E. Ruiz, SCICOFAA president, said cooperation between nations is SCICOFAA’s principal theme.
“We’re not only representing our nation, we’re helping the rest of humanity in a moment of need. Every nation takes pride in putting their heart and soul forward to help a partner nation who is in the middle of natural disaster and help them recover as quickly as possible,” said Ruiz.