In March 2020, when the United States started shelter-in-place orders due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Inter-American Air Forces Academy (IAAFA), which forges international friendship and security cooperation through education and training, coordinated for all of their international students to return to their home countries. Despite relocations, IAAFA began distance learning courses facilitated by videoconferencing software and IAAFA’s Alpha Class of 2020 graduated May 15 via a virtual graduation ceremony.
“The current crisis gives IAAFA an opportunity to grow, develop new ways of teaching, and implement tools to enhance partner nations’ interoperability with the United States well into the future,” said U.S. Air Force Major Eduardo Barajas, director of Operations for the 837th Training Squadron and chief operations officer for IAAFA Distance Learning. “These efforts reassure our partners that IAAFA, despite the current pandemic crisis, is open for business.”
The cohort consists of 30 students in Mexico and Colombia and well as students from other nations throughout Central and South America.
“Colombia and Mexico are IAAFA’s biggest customers and long enduring partners,” Maj. Barajas said. “IAAFA is able to teach students from these countries thanks to the Classroom of the Future and Distance Learning capabilities. COVID-19 didn’t stop them from getting to graduate today.”
Some of the courses taught were International Logistics, Basic Instructor Course, Cyber Security, and Cyber Network. Students in this Alpha Cycle were able to participate in this virtual graduation from anywhere in the world. Alpha Cycle was the beta test for the Bravo Cycle, which will occur from June 1 to August 28 via distance learning.
The academy sees its adaptation as the beginning of a new era, inaugurating a long-term international distance learning capability.
“By maintaining a strong partnership with our allies in Latin America, IAAFA’s efforts to provide distance learning to partner nations will continue to make IAAFA the partner of choice for security cooperation programs,” said Maj. Barajas.