IAAFA leads professional development subject matter expert exchange with Brazilian Air Force

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

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – A team from the Inter-American Air Forces Academy joined forces with the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation to conduct a professional development subject matter expert exchange with the Brazilian Air Force, Aug. 22-24, 2023. It was the first visit of its kind in over a decade.

Maj. Elias Corcho, Director of Operations and Senior Master Sgt. Victor Alvarez, Senior Enlisted Leader, both of the 837th Training Squadron, and Chief Master Sgt. Yusef Saad, IAAFA’s Senior Enlisted Leader, provided insight of IAAFA’s professional development program. Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Alvarez and Sgt. Maj. Antonio Gomez of WHINSEC also briefed leaders on its professional military education.

The group toured the Aeronautics Specialist School in Sao Paolo which provides basic training and technical training across 28 different specialties. The joint team met Brazilian leaders and served as reviewing officers for the military’s parade.

In a following engagement, the team visited the Brazilian Air Force University in Rio De Janeiro and learned about the professional development the institution provides its commissioned officers. “The collaboration offered a unique opportunity to discuss capabilities and improve the training to their respective professional military education corps,” Saad explained. He added that the meetings were very productive “seeing positive changes right away.”

The exchange also reunited IAAFA leaders with former partner nation instructors from the Brazilian Air Force. The former IAAFA instructors utilized the experience they gained at the security cooperation schoolhouse to update their courses.

Márcio Enrique Teixeira de Souza of the Brazilian Air Force taught the Inter-American Squadron Officer Course at IAAFA from 2018 to 2020. “It was an incredible experience,” Teixeira said of his time at the security cooperation school. “I saw enlisted members working with officers – it’s not how we do it here in Brazil, so it was great to see the leadership relationship between them.”

The long-standing relationship between the U.S. and Brazil has proven mutually beneficial.

“We have implemented things here that we learned while at IAAFA, and if someone goes back to IAAFA, we can see that some of what we do here in Brazil has been implemented there as well,” Teixeira explained.

From team exercises – where members learn to work together to overcome challenges – to leadership positions such as a recently added position that combines chief (master sergeant) and first sergeant into one position, IAAFA has helped influence progression across the Brazilian Air Force in the last several years.

“We last added FLEX based on my own experience there,” Teixeira said. “It was difficult…from purchasing the equipment, to the standardization of instructors and execution with the students – it took two years to implement, but it was a great honor,” he said.

“Seeing the changes made by these instructors once they are back in their countries to develop their enlisted and officer core was very rewarding,” Saad said.

Maj. Raphel Osorio is a student affairs instructor with the Brazilian Air Force. He served as instructor of the Inter-American Squadron Officer Course at IAAFA from 2020 to 2022. He admits that introducing new material into courses isn’t always easy as some leaders are reluctant to change.

“We can’t think we are better, Osorio said. “That’s most important because people look at us and think we’re going to change things, so the best thing is to implement things slowly.”

Osorio sees this engagement as potentially leading to more interaction between the two forces. Aside from more partner nation instructors in other areas, he’d also like to see a sort of exchange of instructors and have U.S. instructors among the Brazilian force.

Witnessing the interaction between the enlisted and officer core at IAAFA has led Osorio to conduct research as part of advanced degree examining the relationship between the two.

“I don’t want research to suggest I want to be the same as the United States,” Osorio said. “Our first step is looking at our leadership development between non-commissioned officers. Is it working? Is it providing the air force with leaders and non-commissioned officers that are prepared to be leaders?”

Six of IAAFA’s 14 partner nations instructors are from the Brazilian Air Force. “Our PNIs continue to serve as a strong signal of our partner nation’s investment in the development of their future senior leaders,” Saad said.