MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
Air University welcomed back 31 senior officers and enlisted leaders from 25 countries to Maxwell for the inaugural International Alumni of Distinction Seminar, March 7-9, 2023.
Combatant command international affairs representatives took advantage of the opportunity to collaborate with partner nation senior leaders during the seminar.
It was a reminder that multiple nations are serving with the hope of a more secure and safe future for their citizens. International partnerships are multifaceted, and must be preserved with constant communication, transparency and trust.
Air University plays an important role in building enduring relationships through educational engagements, such as this seminar, said the Air University vice commander and commander of the Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education.
“With the goal of supporting the Air Force chief of staff’s 'integrated by design' strategy, the seminar was deliberately planned to encourage all perspectives, discussion and 360-degree learning, while building U.S. and partner capacity and enabling bi-lateral and multi-lateral relationships between our partners,” said Maj. Gen. William Holt.
The Air University International Affairs Engagements branch ensured the seminar reinforced open dialog within the framework of shared strategic challenges that require interdependent solutions during each of its themed days: Women, Peace, and Security; A Developed, Professional and Empowered Noncommissioned Officer Corps; and Integrated by Design Concepts, focused on information sharing.
"IADS highlighted that our allies and partners are one of the United States' greatest strengths," said Stanley Brown, principal deputy assistant secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, U.S. Department of State. "Continuing to work and train with partners that share similar values with the United States makes the U.S. military service a uniquely capable force, which supports coordination of multiple activities and initiatives around the world. By bringing 25 nations together in one space, this event set the conditions for rich conversation and collaboration on shared challenges and strengths regarding human rights, professionalized NCO corps and interoperability."
Brown provided opening remarks and collaborated with numerous international senior leaders in attendance.
“We will continue to project the importance the Air Force places on our international partnerships as we amplify our efforts to advance national security objectives and develop ‘day-zero interoperability’ by building partnerships and partner capacity through events like IADS,” said Chief Master Sgt. Caleb Vaden, Air University International Affairs senior enlisted leader.
Based on feedback IADS organizers received from some international and U.S. attendees and presenters, the seminar proved successful in meeting its key objectives, said Vaden:
- Warrant Officer Andrews Offei Pabi, Ghana: “The greatest impact that I believe IADS can achieve is to foster a sense of community and improve future generations of all service members.” Pabi is a 2019 graduate of the Senior NCO Academy.
- Group Capt. David Nkansah, Ghana: "IADS impact is in the strength of learning from allies and gaining perspectives on how to apply new learnings to their own forces." Nkansah is a 2016 graduate of the Air Command and Staff College.
- Chief Master Sgt. Emily Price, enlisted international affairs manager and senior enlisted leader for Security Cooperation, U.S. Air Forces Central Command: “The National Defense Strategy and Air Force security strategy ask us to focus on warfighting via collaboration and partnerships and having intentional global dialogue approaches. Certainly, it's more easily executable at this level, so it's a nice compliment to our conversations and encourages future collaboration.”
- Col. Sameh Razouan, El Aouina Base commander and AB205 helicopter pilot, 35th Air Unit, Tunisia: "IADS presented a great opportunity by decreasing the communication gap and empowering partnerships, which unites our perspectives on global, national security and paves the way toward lasting global peace." Razouan is a 2022 Air War College graduate and the first female helicopter pilot and base commander in her country.
- Chief Master Sgt. Wendell Snider, command senior enlisted leader, U.S. Forces Japan: “When you look at national security strategy, it's very clear that to face the threats to come, the United States needs alliances. We can no longer go alone in an impossible conflict with a peer adversary like Russia or China. We are going to encounter situations where it's going to be competition in every domain, so we need to complicate things for our adversary. Also, we want to deter conflict, and the best way to do that is to build alliances and partnerships.”
Brig. Gen. Jeff O’Donnell, director of Regional Affairs, Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, represented the Air Force during the seminar and was able to conduct many bi-lateral engagements, which highlighted the “powerfully positive impact this seminar had on security cooperation across 25 nations.”
“Security cooperation is tied into the concept of integrated by design,” he said. “From beginning to end, we will work with allies and partners … the security cooperation's policies, processes and people aspects. The people part of that is where this program comes in because it's about those relationships; it's continuing those relationships. It's about sharing ideas, and integration is the endpoint, but it starts with the opportunity to share ideas.”
Three of 2022’s inductees into the Chief of Staff and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force International Honor Roll attended the seminar: Maj. Gen. Leonel A. Munoz Noboa, Dominican Republic; Col. Viesturs Masulis, Latvia; and Chief Master Sgt. Zsolt Berek, Hungary. Their attendance highlighted the U.S. partners’ enduring commitment to senior leader international engagements and collaboration not only with the U.S., but as equally important, with other partners and allies in their region and beyond, which continues to strengthen a global alliance for a safer and more secure world.
"Air University will continue to expand alumni engagements that bring International and U.S. senior leaders together to explore security cooperation," said Col. Alex Ganster, International Officer School commandant and Air University International Affairs director. "We need, more than ever, the trust-based strategic partnerships required for a global response against the unprecedented threats to international security."