IAAFA program acts as force multiplier and security cooperation tool

  • Published
  • By Col. Carlos Carrasco Rodriguez
  • IAAFA International Deputy Commandant

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- Since 1943 the Inter-American Air Forces Academy has promoted Security Cooperation principles through the delivery of education and training to 23 Western Hemisphere Partner Nations. The academy carries on this tradition by delivering in-residence curriculum encompassing three core tasks: technical, professional military education and aircrew training. The delivery of these competencies across 31 courses relies on the professionalism and expertise of IAAFA’s instructor corps. This group of professionals includes a cadre of Latin American guest instructors, known as Partner Nation Guest Instructors or PNGIs.

IAAFA’s PNGI program is authorized through bilateral agreements between the Office of the Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, and each of the participating partner nations. These agreements allow IAAFA to invite instructors to fill roles across the organization’s operations as mission requires it. This program serves as a force multiplier allowing the academy to recruit hard-to-find expertise, country-specific perspectives and diversity into its manning portfolio.

For instance, the PNGI program serves as the cornerstone of IAAFA’s PME and aircrew training; PNGI engagement allows the academy to meet instructor-to-student ratios, inject operational relevancy and alleviate USAF staffing constraints. The flexibility of the PNGI program also provides a scalable and customizable process to match shifting mission requirements and Security Cooperation themes such as Diversity and Inclusion, empowerment of the enlisted workforce, and Women, Peace and Security (WPS).

Today, IAAFA hosts 11 guest instructors from Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru who deliver curriculum to Latin American and U.S. Air Force students across 10 courses in Spanish. These professionals account for 18 percent of IAAFA’s instructor corps and serve as a strong signal of our partner nations’ investment in the development of their future senior leaders.

An illustration of this investment is former PNGI Lt. Col. Maria Tejada Quintana from the Dominican Republic, who in 2015 became the first female guest instructor pilot in the history of the academy. After three years at IAAFA, she returned to her home country, received a promotion and is now the first woman in her service to command a fighter squadron. Commodore Anibal Leiva from the Argentinian Air Force served as IAAFA’s Deputy International Commandant and as a flight instructor; upon his return to Argentina, he became the wing commander of the largest air base and is now a senior member of his country’s Joint Staff. Most recently, two former IAAFA PNGIs became the Chief and Deputy Chief of the Paraguayan Air Force.

The collaboration between SAF/IA, IAAFA and Partner Nations provides a flexible education and training tool to deliver relevant and current curriculum to students and is an important mechanism to reinforce Security Cooperation shared goals between the U.S. and the Western Hemisphere. Overall, this program serves as AETC’s key engagement tool and counterweight to Great Power competitors in the Latin American theater of operations.