A senior master sergeant assists a foreign pilot in simulator training. Air Education and Training Command personnel is training the air forces of America's international partners, helping create a large-scale network of air force superiority and international security. (AETC Courtesy photo)
by Nathan Simmons
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs
7/15/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- Air Education and Training Command's mission is to develop America's Airmen today ... for tomorrow, but the command's reach extends far beyond America's borders.
AETC personnel is training the air forces of America's international partners, helping create a large-scale network of air force superiority and international security.
Jo Ann Rowan, the deputy director of operations for AETC's Air Force Security Assistance Training Squadron, said training and equipping other nations has international security implications.
"Increasing our partner's abilities to deter and defend against aggression, supporting U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives, the sharing of common defense burdens, and fostering multi-regional stability are some of the big effects of what we do," Rowan said.
AFSAT is the working arm of the command's international affairs directorate and is the executive agent for all U.S. Air Force-sponsored international training. Operations Director George Ifland said building relationships is a key component to training operations that cannot be overlooked.
"The biggest takeaway for the Air Force is building partnerships and maintaining close bonds with our allies," Ifland said. "Having the ability to fly over, land in, and rely on these foreign nations to increase our collective global vigilance, along with extending their capabilities to defend themselves, is extremely important to keeping America safe."
Funds for international training come from both the State Department and foreign military sales, and the Air Force trained its partners to the tune of $287.6 million dollars last year -- $17.25 million of which was paid for with taxpayer dollars. The rest is paid for by U.S. foreign partners.
Through language schools, various types of technical and flying training, and professional military education, the command is training more than 6,500 students from approximately 150 countries annually in the U.S., with various U.S. Air Force teams in nearly 40 countries abroad.
2nd Lt. Skiba Przemyslaw, a Polish air force pilot who will begin instructor training later on this month at Randolph Air Force Base, said his training experience is heightened by learning the English language and training here in America.
"Everything we learn in America, we use in Poland, but also in exercises with other NATO members and it makes us all better," said Przemyslaw.
"There's no telling, I might bump into these guys down the line because I stay in touch with some of the international students," said Roy Lozano, the chief of the International Military Student Office. "It's a good relationship, and it's important for both countries to stick together."
AFSAT is particularly active with countries in the Middle East right now, as the unit continues to provide a steady flow of training to countries like Iraq and Saudi Arabia, among others. The U.S. and its allies are also investing in next-generation platforms like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the C 130-J Hercules. The command is generating a global security network that is becoming increasingly more capable every day, but these efforts surpass the logistical and militaristic components of this process.
"Great rapport is made with the countries we train -- a real relationship that goes beyond the training," said Scotty Gibbs, European Command country manager. "There is a high level of trust that the countries have in us, as people."
Gibbs said his genuine, personal relationships with liaisons from our allied nations make international affairs more than just dealings between nations, but connections between people.
"What we're dealing with are working class people who are really appreciative of the training they receive, their time in the states, and most importantly, the camaraderie and friendships they make," Ifland said. "These folks are taking their experiences back to their countries, and are having a great impact on foreign relations and how the world looks at us."
"AFSAT succeeds in building partnerships with the people of America's allied nations, while facing challenging initiatives like preparing for the adoption of the F-35, and helping rebuild the Iraqi Air Force," said Col. Scott Seavers, AFSAT commander. "The end result is a stronger allied force and greater security for Americans and our international partners."
7/15/2012 9:54:23 PM ET How about we filter that 17.5M into training the AETC Instructor corps on AFI 36-2909 instead of into foreign forces