IAAFA’s Enlisted PME Program Delivers Again!

By Dialogo
January 07, 2010

For the fifth time in two years the Inter-American Air Forces Academy (IAAFA) delivers its full International Noncommissioned Officer Academy (INCOA) Course in a mobile capacity. Deployed for 46 days to Bogota, Colombia, Master Sergeant Samuel Nuñez and Technical Sergeant Juan Marquez offered 220 hours of United States Air Force Enlisted Professional Military Education to 15 Colombian Senior Noncommissioned Officers. Among the participants was the first CMSgt of the Air Force equivalent, Tecnico Jefe de Comando Gonzalo Cuervo. In addition, the group of students included the first three females to ever participate in an enlisted leadership development program in the Colombian Air Force’s 90-year history. IAAFA’s Enlisted Professional Military Education (EPME) Program managers responded to the call during 2008. Since then, the team has taken the U.S. National Defense’s Building Partnership Capacity Strategy to the field. This initiative continues setting the foundation for the future of Latin American (LATAM) Air Forces and strengthening regional cooperation with LATAM Air Forces and USSOUTHCOM. This is accomplished by providing a common EPME framework focused in areas like Unit Management, Combat Leadership, the Military Professional and Managerial Communications. Since the 2008 initiative, IAAFA’s EPME program has solidified one of the Air Force’s top priorities: Building Partnership Capacity. It has enabled enlisted personnel from over 21 countries in the USSOUTHCOM area to more adequately support US-LATAM engagements at all levels, as economic, political and social instability continues to reverberate throughout the region and the US. The initiative’s objective was reaffirmed as Major General Julio Gonzalez, Colombian Air Force vice Chief of Staff, stated “we now have a common framework of education. NCOs graduating from this course will develop structured leadership skills and a better understanding of how the enlisted force contributes to the overall Air Force mission.” In addition to the four main areas of the INCOA curriculum delivered during the mobile training mission, the deployed team exposed students, for the first time in the program’s history, to the “Fit-To-Fight” concept. Students participated in physical training three times a week and for the first time ever were tested using USAF fitness standards. Results in this area were astonishing to the students as they acquired a better understanding of the importance of being fit for combat and experienced improvement in their physical and mental condition. Among other unique accomplishments of this mission was the Community Event. In the Military Professional area of the curriculum students were exposed to the concept of the Noncommissioned Officer as a professional. Subjects like culture, identification and specialized skills and training were discussed, but the main concept delivered in this area was service centered in the community. In this area students were challenged to organize a community event, and the students answered the call! The students organized an event were over 50 orphans and low income family children were serviced. The event included medical and dental care, barber service, entertainment, and security and over $1,000 dollars in donations, which were used for gifts and meals for the children and their care takers. The event established a new relationship between the Colombian Air Force and their community and provided a new blueprint for future community events. The Colombian Mobile INCOA course culminated with a memorable graduation on 10 December 2009. Over 60 people witnessed the event, and several distinguished visitors from the Colombian and United Stated Military Forces addressed the graduates. As this mission ended, four other LATAM Countries expressed their interest in hosting IAAFA’s mobile INCOA course and the three in-residence classes’ requests reached the highest levels in the program’s 13 year history.