LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Two Airmen are making history as the first Air Force NCOs to attend the IAAFA Inter-American NCO Academy.
In addition to earning NCO academy enlisted professional military education credit, Tech. Sgts. Leonardo Cepero Febres and George Nikolakakos are studying alongside NCOs from Guatemala, Peru and Honduras. They are learning traditional NCOA objectives while building partnerships and learning about the Latin American NCOs and their perspectives.
According to Chief Master Sgt. Andres Alvarez, Inter-American Air Forces Academy superintendent, admitting Air Force NCOs into the Spanish-speaking course supports the priorities of top Air Force leaders while enhancing relationships with Latin American countries.
"Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Roy visited IAAFA in June. During the tour, he pointed out (Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz's) priority to increase (Air Force) cross-cultural competence and capabilities by creating and strengthening coalition and partner nation relationships. Including NCOs in the INCOA aligns with that priority," he said.
"The experience will give our NCOs an invaluable immersion. They will get first-hand knowledge of our partner nations' military, political and cultural issues that impact our Inter-American relationships. The NCOs will learn that we are all Americans with common problems," Chief Alvarez said.
The chief added that while studying and learning leadership principles together, the Airmen will form important career-long bonds. Those relationships will go a long way, ultimately contributing to strengthening partner nation alliances and supporting humanitarian missions in the Western Hemisphere.
Air Force NCOs will also begin attending in-country INCOA courses in Bogota, Colombia and Mexico City in 2011. Senior Master Sergeants Jesus Compean and Benjamin Miranda, and Master Sgt. Samuel Nunez are the linchpin 8T000 that are making the USAF leadership building partnership vision a reality. Chief Alvarez said the program will promote joint and coalition force education and acculturation. This experience will also give Airmen an opportunity to understand Latin American military and civilian culture.
"IAAFA's goal is to teach the INCOA curriculum while sharing the knowledge, skills and abilities of Air Force NCOs with Latin American partners," said Chief Alvarez.
NCOs interested in attending the INCOA must meet Air Force quality forces standards for enlisted PME attendance. They must have a Community College of the Air Force degree and be at least 2+/2+ fluent in Spanish language.
Air Force Personnel Center enlisted PME scheduling is the primary office for eligibility and selection notification. For more information, contact IAAFA at IAAFA.CCEInbox@us.af.mil