Lima, Peru --
The Inter-American Air Force’s Academy hosted it’s second-ever Officer and Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Seminar and Subject Matter Expert Exchange with members of the Peruvian Army, Air Force, and Navy, in Lima, Peru, March 9-12.
“Professional Military Education and developmental courses are the heart of IAAFA,” said Senior Master Sgt. Gerardo Marquez, IAAFA superintendent. “Our vision is to build security cooperation and strong enduring relationships with our partners; collaborative engagements like these are what make that possible.”
The goal for this PME seminar was to create an opportunity to increase collaboration, share experiences and lessons learned and showcase the importance of leadership training for officers and enlisted military members at all levels to enhance interoperability and mission success.
“It is IAAFA’s mission to provide military education and training to our military partners of the Americas,” said Francisco Hernandez, IAAFA Traditional Commanders Activity (TCA) coordinator. “We were thrilled to host this event for a second time and hope that it means many similar engagements with our Peruvian military partners in the future.”
IAAFA was joined by fellow U.S. military SMEs from the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) and U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) to provide additional insight on leadership, communication and professional military education (PME) for both officers and NCOs alike.
“The United States is an enduring friend and partner to Peru,” said U.S. Army Master Sergeant Danny Gomes, NCO Development Partnership Program Manager for SOUTHCOM. “Having the opportunity to participate in events like these reiterate our steadfast commitment to mutually beneficial cooperation with Peru and our enduring promise of friendship, partnership, and solidarity with the Americas. Thank you to our IAAFA brethren for making this seminar possible.”
This IAAFA led initiative directly supports Joint Security Cooperation Education and Training efforts and SOUTHCOM’s goal to support and strengthen the U.S. and Peruvian partnership.
Members of the West Virginia National Guard also joined IAAFA for this professional development engagement. They have had an advising, training and assistance relationship with Peru since 1996 and participate in many partnership capacity building events each year as part of the National Guard State Partnership Program.
“Our Peruvian partnership has created an enduring and important working relationship that enables unique training opportunities for all involved parties,” said State Command Sergeant Major James Jones, West Virginia Army National Guard. “We are thankful to the IAAFA team the opportunity to join and our Peruvian partners in discussions on leadership best practices, professional development for all ranks and how each of us contributes to being the most effective military organizations possible.”
2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program, which links a state’s National Guard with the armed forces of a partner country to participate in training and other activities that foster long-term enduring relationships. The SPP has become a critical component of U.S. defense strategy and a model for security cooperation in the 21st century.
WHINSEC’s contributions were also invaluable to the seminar. As the Army’s version of IAAFA, WHINSEC shared their expertise to further the idea exchange and train, educate and develop ethical leaders to strengthen democratic partnerships, to include that of Peru.
“We couldn’t be more grateful to IAAFA for the invitation to join them for this initiative,” said WHINSEC Command Sergeant Major Jose Lopez. “I believe the lessons, discussion, and interactions that took place during the week will have a direct impact on the building of ethical leaders within the ranks at all levels for our Peruvian military partner’s teams.
The positive impact could be felt starting day one. Many grateful participants from each branch of the Peruvian military expressed to the team comments like “We can tell you hosted this because you want the best for our force,” Peruvian Navy participant; “What I have learned this week has really changes my way of thinking,” Peruvian Air Force participant; “I will be able to apply what I have learned about leadership and development in a way that will strengthen my team,” Peruvian Navy Army.
Officer and NCO leadership and professional development were the seminar's main focus, but the attention towards women integration cannot go without mention.
”It was inspiring to see a room filled with a diverse group of Peruvian military members that included strong female officers and enlisted, said Staff Sgt. Soleine Izquierdo, IAAFA International Student Manager. “As a female NCO myself, I was proud to see these women not afraid to speak up, join the conversation and share their thoughts and experiences for the benefit of everyone in attendance. I spoke with one fellow NCO female who thanked me and said that this event planted a seed for gender integration in Peru. These ladies are warriors and I am so proud to be among them as a fellow strong and confident Peruvian woman who chose a life of service.”
IAAFA, SOUTHCOM, WHINSEC, and WVNG joined forces, creating a joint team that ensured the success of this engagement and further developed and solidified the lasting relationships between the U.S. and Peruvian military forces.
“We would love to bring all members of our partner nation’s militaries to IAAFA [at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas] but since that isn’t feasible it is engagements like these that build upon our foundation of friendship and promoted forward-thinking and mutual growth,” said Marquez. “Having the opportunity to gather IAAFA, WHINSEC, the West Virginia National Guard and SOUTHCOM here in Peru is invaluable. We look forward to hosting more events like this and supporting our Peruvian military partners in their PME and NCO development curriculums journey in whatever way will beneficial their forces.”
To close out the seminar the Peruvian Air Force Senior Supervisor Technician Orlando Saavedra Vasquez, shared his thoughts:
The best thing we can do is focus on how we can improve our most valuable resource… the human resource. Thank you to IAAFA, WHINSEC, the West Virginia National Guard and SOUTHCOM for sending quality professional military men and women to share these values, which are worthy of being respected.
For additional photos and videos from the seminar go to the GatewayWing Flickr account.
Learn more about IAAFA at https://www.37trw.af.mil/Units/Inter-American-Air-Forces-Academy/.