Latin American air force cadets tour US, build partnerships throughout the hemisphere

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Angela Ruiz
  • Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern)

Future leaders of 11 Latin American Air Forces visited 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) on the tail-end of their visit through the United States as part of the Latin American Cadet Initiative, Oct. 30.

The Latin American Cadet Initiative offers the top two cadets from each Latin American air force academy the opportunity to participate in the 3 1/2-week program. The Secretary of the Air Force International Affairs office has been operating this program for the last 13 years.

“These cadets are very likely to become colonels and generals in their Air Forces,” said Toya Brown, Secretary of the Air Force International Affairs country director for the Western Hemisphere. “So if they are able to see and understand now how we operate in the United States Air Force, it makes it that much easier to do those cooperative agreements in the future.”

The 22 cadets represented air forces from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

All of the countries that participated except Mexico fall under U.S. Southern Command’s Area of Responsibility. Air Forces Southern is responsible for all U.S. Air Force assets and engagements within U.S. Southern Command.

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base was the last stop for the cadets before returning home. While there, they received a hands-on tour of a HH-60 Pave Hawk and an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. They also visited and learned about the missions at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces and Air Forces Southern.

“It’s been an amazing trip. We met people from all around the world, all of the Latin cadets and also from international week at the (U.S. Air Force) Academy, (where) we made very good friends,” said Ivo Santilli, Argentine Air Force cadet. “All the people that we met here we know are going to be future officers in their air force, so it’s good to create these relationships.”