U.S. Air Forces Southern/12th Air Force (AFSOUTH) hosted the South American Air Chiefs and Senior Enlisted Leaders Conference in Tucson, Arizona, December 5-8, 2023.
The bi-annual conference united seven partner air chiefs and designated representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, under the theme Forging a Path Together to Address Future Challenges.
U.S. Air Force Major General Evan Pettus, AFSOUTH commander, hosted the conference and set out three main topics of discussion he described as “integral to successful peace and stability in the region.”
The topics — Building a path together to regional interoperability, Innovation in ‘our’ engagements, and building the future force — served as cornerstones to many discussions amongst the key leaders. Maj. Gen. Pettus said these focus areas provided opportunities for high-level military leaders to strengthen relationships and come to understand each other better.
“We’ve collectively proven that our hemisphere is much stronger when we partner together,” said Maj. Gen. Pettus. “Opportunities for cooperation are critical to realizing our shared vision and values for a prosperous and secure region.”
Throughout the week, speakers presented topics that sparked discussions and deepened relationships between partner nations’ militaries.
Peruvian Air Force Lieutenant General Carlos Enrique Chávez Cateriano said that the conference gave attendees a platform to come together to express their ideas through a common language and develop good plans for the future of Latin America. “We are a very rich region, we have a lot of natural resources we need to protect, and we are commonly working together to face new challenges around the world.”
Senior enlisted leaders who attended the conference amplified discussions around the benefits of a professional enlisted force.
U.S. Air Force Command Chief Master Sergeant Dennis Fuselier, AFSOUTH, led the conversation, asserting his belief that every opportunity available should be invested in an organization’s most valuable resource, its people.
“In order for leaders to be ready to meet operational requirements, it is imperative we have a well-equipped, trained, and empowered enlisted force ready to operate in joint and multinational environments,” remarked Command Chief Master Sgt. Fuselier.
“I found these conversations and exchanges of ideas to be very fruitful for my own work,” said Master Sergeant Alejandro José Rubio, Argentine senior enlisted leader. “It’s an excellent opportunity to exchange opinions and ideas with the air chiefs and senior enlisted leaders.”
The 2024 conference will host air chiefs and senior enlisted leaders from Central America and Caribbean countries.