Partner nation, U.S. students graduate IAAFA’s largest training cycle in nearly 2 years

  • Published
  • By Vanessa R. Adame
  • 37th Training Wing Public Affairs

Nearly 200 members from partner nations spanning across the Western Hemisphere and the U.S. gathered here Dec. 6 at a banquet to celebrate their graduation from the Inter-American Air Forces Academy.

The graduates included students from 15 countries across Central and South America and the U.S., in the largest student cycle the academy has seen in approximately two years since COVID-19.

Lt. Gen. Mary O’Brien, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance and Cyber Effects Operations, was the event’s guest speaker.  

O’Brien, who is also a Women’s Initiatives Team Champion for the Department of the Air Force, working to address barriers in women’s careers in policies and programs, met with the female graduates prior to the event. She shook hands and spoke with each one with the help of an IAAFA translator.

“You – all of you – are the key to enacting this vision,” O’Brien said, addressing the entire graduating class. “You are the key to lasting partnerships within and across our organizations. You are the key to creating environments that are inclusive for all members of your team.”

The students, each with their country’s flag emblazoned on their uniform sleeves, listened to the general’s remarks interpreted by a translator.

“Even though your class is graduating, my hope is that you’ve created a cohesive network and some lifelong friendships. I encourage you to continue working together as partners to face and overcome barriers and to help each other grow in advance,” O’Brien said.

Col. Jose Jimenez Jr., IAAFA commandant, spoke about the importance of building relationships with allied nations to promote security and human rights interests.

“What you see among yourselves in the successful integration of various backgrounds, levels of experience and perspectives,” Jimenez said “In just weeks you and the IAAFA staff built a robust team that moves in one direction and with the same objectives in mind.”

Achievement awards included top instructor, partner nation guest instructor, international military student team member and student who made the most significant contribution to the success of their class.

“Take every opportunity to empower and trust each member of your team, understanding that every demographic has untapped potential,” Jimenez said. “Different genders, backgrounds, cultures and points of view do not hamper growth, they accelerate it.”