INTERNATIONAL OFFICER SCHOOL: Alabama Goodwill Ambassadors touch base with town hall|
by Senior Airman Christopher Stoltz
Air University Public Affairs
5/11/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- With the goal of recruiting new members and promoting communication between international military students and the International Officer School, the Alabama Goodwill Ambassadors held a town hall meeting recently in Shelburne Hall.
"The AGA program sets the groundwork for the Air Force's core function of building partnerships and leaves a lasting positive impression on the international officers attending the Air University," said Col. Edward Brown, commandant of the International Officer School. "The international military officers take the relationships and American experiences back to their home nations and stay in contact with the sponsors when they return home."
The AGA program began in 1966 as a collaborative effort between the Air University and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce to help international military students and their families become acclimated with the River Region and act as liaison between IOS and the students while they are attending various schools here.
The main goal of AGA town hall meetings are to create an open communication forum for the AGA program, something which has been lacking in recent years because of frequent changes of IOS personnel and limited manpower.
Debbie Gaddy, chairman of the Alabama Goodwill Ambassador Advisory Committee, said the agenda for town hall meetings includes presenting issues, addressing concerns and identifying opportunities to improve the program.
Limited manpower is a concern as the AGA only has 96 active members. Gaddy said this may prove cumbersome when the latest class arrives because the class is expected to include 124 international officers. This obstacle will make effective communication between IOS and the AGAs that much more critical.
"In the past, the only time we gathered as a group was for formal functions, and there wasn't any opportunities for discussion of items that may have been of interest to the group as whole," said the chairman. "The key to continuing this program at its best is for the communication channels between the IOS staff and the AGA to be open and easy to access."
Having this ease of access and open communication will help foster positive relations between international officers and Maxwell, and in extension, between their countries and the United States.
Brown also highlighted the more serious purpose of the AGA program, which is allowing the international students to focus on their studies while in the River Region.
"The AGA program enables IOS to 'punch above its weight' when it comes to support to the international students and what IOS is manned to do," he said. "The sponsorship program is not a core function of IOS; however, they enable the students to focus on the task at hand - attending professional military education at Maxwell."
Persons interested in becoming a part of the program should call Maj. Eric Reed at 953-6338.