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System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces (SICOFAA) 53rd Anniversary

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Adam Grant
  • 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs
In 1961, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Thomas D. White invited senior air officers from 13 different countries to join him at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, for a meeting geared at strengthening the bonds between the Air Forces in the Western Hemisphere.

That first meeting evolved into an annual conference now known as the Conference of the Air Chiefs of the Americas (CONJEFAMER) and has since grown to include 20 countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela).

Soon after the initial meeting the partner air chiefs decided that they needed to have a system to create continuity from year-to-year, which lead to the creation of the System of Cooperation Among American Air Forces (SIFCOFAA).

SICOFAA is the system that puts action to CONJEFAMER, a secretariat. The permanent secretariat was started in 1965 and since then the U.S. Air Force has hosted it, although it can be hosted by any nation. Every four to five years it comes up for renewal. Currently, the deputy secretary general position rotates amongst the other 20 Air Forces for two year tours in alphabetical order of the country they represent.

"SICOFAA's primary mission is to promote and strengthen the ties of friendship and the mutual support of its participants through the sharing of common experiences, resources, the training and education of its personnel and all other activities that facilitate the development of procedures to act in a combined manner when directed by our governments," said Col. Alberto Moreno, SICOFAA Secretary General.

The new focus of humanitarian assistance, disaster response, partnership capacity building and interoperability between partner nations has progressed rapidly over the past three years.

"The SICOFAA member nations have created and published the SICOFAA Manual for Combined Air Operations in Humanitarian Support and Disaster Relief. A doctrine manual on how SICOFAA is to participate in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) operations", said Moreno.

The organization hosted Exercise COOPERACION I in the tails of the Chilean earthquake of 2010.

"In 2010 Chile hosted Exercise COOPERATION I, which was the first SICOFAA flying HA/DR exercise. Since then the focus for SICOFAA has been HA/DR," added the colonel. "In Apr 2013 Exercise COOPERATION II, a tabletop HA/DR exercise was held in Argentina in preparation for this year's flying HA/DR Exercise Cooperation III which will be held in Peru in Apr-May 2014. Thirteen member nations are participating in COOPERATION III, most of them with air assets."

In the future SICOFAA hopes to build institutional capacity among member Air Forces and training for combined air operations in HA/DR. They also plan to test, update, and approve the Manual for Combined Air Operations in Humanitarian Support and Disaster Relief as SICOFAA's official doctrine.

"Testing and implementing common operational doctrine among the members for use in combined HA/DR air operations and integration with our joint organizations while continuing the development of personal relationships will prove vital in the future," said Moreno.