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Air chiefs from across the Americas convene in a display of continued cooperation

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Rachel Maxwell
  • 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)

Air Force leaders and representatives from across the Western Hemisphere assembled in Argentina June 18-20 for the 64th “Conferencia de los Jefes de las Fuerzas Aéreas Americanas,” Spanish for, Conference of the American Air Chiefs, or CONJEFAMER.

Argentinian Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Fernando Luis Mengo hosted the event, which was attended by U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin.

The senior Air Force leaders of 19 nations took part in discussions concentrated on readiness needs to meet a collective vision and laid plans for future exercises together.

“The Conference of American Air Chiefs is a unique opportunity to learn from and build partnerships with our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere,” said Allvin. “It is also an exceptional forum for enhancing our shared security objectives while generating mutual trust and understanding. I was honored to engage my counterparts firsthand and look forward to improving our collective ability to meet complex global challenges.”

The 3-day conference was sponsored by the System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces, an apolitical institution established in 1961, now sitting at 23 member nations with a purpose to be an efficient organization in cooperation and mutual support between the American Air Forces and their equivalents.

“CONJEFAMER is the medieval roundtable for the American Air Forces today,” said Brazilian Air Force Col. Bruno Pedra, undersecretary general for SICOFAA. “Which makes it imperative to maintain and strengthen an environment of trust and professional cooperation.”

Much of the value gained during the annual conference can be placed on the relationships built among the air chiefs to aid in emergent situations when a rapid response is needed. 

This year alone Colombia experienced devastating wildfires and Brazil encountered unprecedented flooding, bringing discussions of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response efforts to the forefront of remarks amongst some leaders.

“In the world we live in today there are two irrefutable truths,” said Colombian Air Force Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Carlos Fernando Silva Rueda. “The first is that there is a climate change that will potentially produce natural disasters at any time. The second is that there is nothing like having friends to lean on when you need it most. Our brothers, the Air Forces of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, the United States and Uruguay, through our system, answered our call, giving us a hand, providing their capabilities so we could sort these fires.”

“CONJEFAMER is where lessons learned are reported and activities to be developed are decided,” noted Pedra. “Congruently, in Argentina, the wildfires in Colombia and floods in Brazil were both addressed in a framework of the pre-coordinations mediated by SICOFAA.”

Pedra also hinted in the potential expanding influence within similar organizations outside the Western Hemisphere.  

“Studying SICOFAA in its entirety, it becomes clear that SICOFAA’s future includes a systematic relationship with homologous systems in Africa and the Indo-Pacific region,” he said. “In this way, the maximum benefit for its members will increasingly depend on the diplomatic capacity of their representatives either among themselves or with their respective governments.”  

Formal proceedings came to a close when Mengo relinquished the SICOFAA ceremonial bell into the hands of next year’s host, Paraguayan Air Force Commander Gen. Julio Rubén Fullaondo Céspedes, symbolizing the beginning of next year’s activities.