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AFSOUTH Liaison Officers: A proud heritage of service, a new tradition of regional leadership

  • Published
  • By Jessica Casserly
  • 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs
(This feature is part of the "AFSOUTH Liaison Officers" series. These stories focus on a single Air Forces Southern liaison officer, highlighting their experience serving as their country's representative to the AFSOUTH Commander.)

Colonel Carlos Torres followed in his father's footsteps when he began his Colombian air force career in 1987 and now, as the Colombian air force's liaison officer for Air Forces Southern, he hopes to raise awareness of the important changes his country has made to become a regional leader in South America.

The Colombian air force commander took into account Torres's experience and military career, when he appointed Torres as the AFSOUTH Colombian LNO in December 2013. Now that his time in the position is nearing an end, Torres speaks fondly of both the professional and personal experiences he has had at Davis-Monthan.

"This experience has been great for me personally and professionally," Torres said. "For the personal, my family and I now know the West side of the United States. My family has visited San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. It's wonderful. For the professional part, I understand the United States Air Force more--how it works and how we can improve the relationship between our air forces."

Though the Colombian LNO experience is a short one, with just a one year tour of duty, Torres has gleaned a lot from his time at AFSOUTH.

"[During my time here], I have come to know different ways of doing things," Torres said. "As I compare them with the way we do business [in the Colombian air force], I see different areas where we can improve."

Tyrone Barbery, the AFSOUTH LNO General Program Manager, explained that while the Colombian LNO has a limited timeframe to make an impact in this position, Torres has used that time efficiently to represent his air force.

"For most LNOs this is a two year tour," Barbery said. "In the case of the Colombian air force they have an institutional policy that their military members can only be away for one year, and that's the case with Colonel Torres. Hopefully, in the future, we can extend the Colombian LNO's stay to at least 18 months. But despite the condensed timeline, Colonel Torres has been very productive."

AFSOUTH LNOs gain a unique perspective on the USAF during their time at Davis-Monthan and they leave a lasting impression of their respective country's air force as well.

"The Colombian air force has become a regional leader, if you will," Barbery said.

Showing the USAF and other partner nations the great strides his country has made toward regional leadership is very important to Torres and the Colombian air force.

"This experience as an LNO is a great opportunity to show the other side of my country," Torres said. "My country has changed. We are now helping other countries to build up their capabilities with the advice of the United States Air Force."

Barbery explained that Torres's country has been fighting a guerilla war for about 60 years, but that in the past decade, the Colombian air force has been experiencing many successes that other air forces in the region can emulate.

"Colonel Torres was asked by name to attend and give a presentation at the Pacific Rim Symposium," Barbery said. "And he was credited with presenting the best briefing of the symposium, because he focused on some key points as to why his country has been so successful. These successes are good lessons that our Air Force can learn from."

Torres has spent the past 11 months strengthening the partnership between the Colombian air force and the USAF and as he prepares to transition back to his home country, he is hopeful that the impact he has made will help solidify a lasting partnership between the U.S. and Colombia.

"This program is very important for us," Torres said. "It will improve the communication, the coordination and the relationship between our air forces, between our armed forces and between our countries."