AFSOUTH sponsors safety symposium in Dominican Republic Published May 6, 2009 By Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- In an effort to promote higher standards of safety in the western hemisphere, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) sponsored a second annual Safety Symposium April 28-30 in the Dominican Republic. Sixteen countries from across the Americas attended the symposium, 14 of which offered presentations on different topics involving ground, weapons, and flight safety. "Our goal is to promote structured safety programs throughout the region," said Mr. Dave Capotosti, 12th AF (AFSOUTH) deputy chief of safety. "Structured safety cooperation between nations can improve existing safety standards without increasing the price tag. We wanted to provide a forum within which all the country's representatives could ask questions, exchange ideas, and offer suggestions and recommendations." Programs discussed varied widely, from the back shop to flight line ops -- even explosive material. "Partner nations in the AFSOUTH area of focus are working to establish quality weapons safety programs," explained Master Sgt. Josh Lamm, 12th AF (AFSOUTH) weapons safety superintendent. "Our team assists by demonstrating techniques to apply proper criteria to explosives operating and storage facilities." The three day event, hosted by the Dominican Republic Air Force in Boca Chica, featured two daily sessions for safety discussions. Flight safety was the predominant theme, with a noticeable increase in weapons safety interest, according to Col. Mark Mouw, 12th AF (AFSOUTH) director of safety. "My focus was establishing a cooperative way ahead, that wasn't dependent on money to survive," Colonel Mouw said. "I presented alternative options for future efforts other than the symposium format and informed our partner nations about ongoing engagements in the region focused on cooperation between the United States, and their neighboring countries. The bottom line is we are all poised to help each other more." While the Safety Symposium is an independent initiative, it mirrors other AFSOUTH and U.S. Southern Command initiatives to promote cooperation. For example, Operation Southern Partner, a two-week military exchange of different specialties between the U.S. and seven other countries, begins May 31. Airmen with specialties ranging from crew chief to pararescue will pair up with their counterparts in Jamaica, Belize, Barbados and Guyana to exchange ideas, techniques and expertise.