IAAFA leaders visit Paraguay in strategic visit

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

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – Inter-American Air Forces Academy leaders met with Paraguayan Air Force officials in a strategic visit to Paraguay, Sept. 14 to 16.

Col. José Jiménez, Jr., IAAFA commandant and Chief Master Sgt. Emilio Avila, IAAFA Senior Enlisted Leader, visited with Gen. Arturo Gonzalez Ocampo, Commander of the Paraguayan Air Force, Col. Jorge Ramirez, commander of the Flying Training Group, and Brig. Gen. Roberto José Idoyaga Benitez, commander of the Aeronautical Training Command.

During the two-day visit, the leaders toured the Aeronautical Training Command, the NCO academy and the Flying Training Group at Concepcion Air Base. Besides looking at resources, leaders met the people behind the missions, many of them former IAAFA graduates who shared their experiences of how the academy helped in their development as leaders.

“I want to thank IAAFA for having provided me the academic knowledge and the opportunity to make friendships with others who also had the privilege to study at your prestigious academy,” said Gonzalez, who is also a two-time graduate of IAAFA. “It is a great value as commander of the Paraguayan Air Force.”

Master Sgt. Derlis Manuel Rojas, of the Paraguayan Army, stood in front of a packed auditorium at the Aeronautical Training Command to share how IAAFA influenced him as a young leader seven years prior. At the time, Rojas was a young sergeant in the Inter-American Airman Leadership School course. He credits that course for teaching him the value of teamwork.

“It taught me that everyone has the ability to make decisions,” Rojas said. "We make decisions as a team, not on one’s own, simply by being the highest ranking.”

Today working as a general assistant in the joint chief’s staff command office, Rojas recalls the lessons he learned at IAAFA.

“In my country we lead differently. Coming back, I’ve tried to implement transformational leadership as much as I could on my level,” Rojas said.

Master Sgt. Cyntia Galeano, of the Paraguayan Air Force, also took the stage to share her story as a graduate of IAAFA’s Inter-American Non-Commissioned Officer Course in 2019. There, she learned how her leadership could help the development of her team.

“I was able to learn tools that allowed me to develop my abilities and grow as a leader,” Galeano said. “IAAFA showed me that I can work with males, females, with officers and subordinates who are older than me without that being an impediment.”

Galeano was part of the first female group to enter her country’s air force through the National University in Asuncion Paraguay. She’s also on track to be the first female with an official international credential to work with canines.

She credits her leadership for their support in helping her grow as a leader.

“Being a young sergeant and being able to talk to the commander like a professional and having them acknowledge that you are the subject matter expert on this…they have the given me their confidence and space to lead,” Galeano said.

From the podium, Jiménez thanked the airmen for sharing their stories.

“At the end of the day, the training we do at IAAFA isn’t only about technical training, but about the strategic lessons and the lessons that unite us and help us understand one another to work together,” Jiménez said. The training we do at IAAFA isn’t only important for what we are doing today, but for what we will do together 20 years from now.” 

IAAFA leaders also met the prospective International Deputy Commandant, who is expected to fill the seat next year. 

The visit culminated with a ceremony where Jiménez was awarded a medal of recognition from the Aeronautical Training Command.

Following the ceremony, Avila offered advice to the Paraguayan Air Force’s enlisted members.

“We will continue to strengthen our ties between our countries, especially with the enlisted force.” Avila said, “I encourage you to continue to be motivated and focused on what it is you serve.”