AU international military students visit D.C., gain U.S. government, military perspectives

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. William Russell
  • Air University Public Affairs

International military students attending the 2023-2024 Air Command and Staff College class spent several days in the nation’s capital to develop a deeper understanding of the U.S federal government and U.S. military.

The 79 students, representing 64 nations, visited Arlington National Cemetery, the National Mall, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Annex, National Defense University and the Capitol, where they engaged with Alabama representatives.

The International Officer School at Air University sponsored the trip July 9-13.

The visit demonstrated to the students how the U.S. government affects its citizens and people and nations across the globe, while enabling the officers to experience democracy in action as part of their field studies program.

“This trip allowed our international allies and partners to understand and appreciate American society, institutions and ideals firsthand”, said Lt. Col. Andrea Searor, International Affairs Plans and Engagements Branch Chief. “We pride ourselves at the International Officer School in building relationships with allies and partners across the globe to deepen security cooperation efforts while establishing friendships and comradery that transcend geo-political borders.”   

Trip highlights included students from Ukraine, Japan, Colombia and South Africa participating in the ceremonial laying of the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. Additionally, the entire group visited the Capitol to meet with Alabama representatives Terri Sewell, Dale Strong and Barry Moore to discuss the importance of alliances and partnerships in support of the National Security Strategy.    

“It was an honor for my fellow students and I to pay homage to countless United States military members who made the ultimate sacrifice for the U.S. by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier”, said Maj. Mykhailo Ukrainets, Ukrainian Air Force. “As we honored American servicemen, it especially made me think of all the brave souls defending Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity against foreign aggressors back home.”

At the end of the visit, the students had a chance to engage scholars in an academic setting at National Defense University, hosted by the Near East South Asian Center for Strategic Studies, where they discussed four regional centers.

During this session, students had candid conversations with academic scholars regarding current security challenges in South and Central Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. Students provided unique perspectives from their respective country’s point of view while discussing whole-of-government approaches to security and socio-political challenges in these regional centers.        

For the past 67 years, the IOS continues to support national security cooperation strategic imperatives by supporting, preparing, and partnering with international military students and their families. The school ensures international military students succeed during their participation, side by side with their American counterparts, in U.S. Air Force professional military education.

Since its establishment in 1954, more than 12,000 international military students from 136 countries have completed the program. The program consists of planned classroom activities, wargames, field studies trips, and a sponsorship program which introduces students to the political, military and socioeconomic aspects of American culture.