Diverse Airmen leverage foreign language skills at International Air Chiefs Conference

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  • By Capt. Anna-Marie Wyant

Reserve Airmen stepped outside their Air Force specialties to provide integral language support during the International Air Chiefs Conference in Washington, Sept. 15-17. 

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. and his wife, Sharene Brown, welcomed air chiefs, spouses and staffs from 49 nations during the event, which focused on promoting the value of airpower and cooperation among global partners and allies. 

“Our Total Force Airmen helped demonstrate the importance of close collaboration with our allies and partners, and our desire to ensure we are integrated by design—not only in our systems but also with our people,” Brown said. “I am continually impressed by and proud of the vast capabilities and dedication of our Reserve forces.”  

To welcome international guests and help them feel comfortable during the conference, Lt. Col. Jill Cameron, project officer for this year’s conference, had an idea to leverage Reservists to provide foreign language expertise and protocol support.  

“As an individual mobilization augmentee, I know we have an extraordinary amount of bilingual and multilingual Airmen across the Air Force Reserve,” Cameron said. “In May we sent out a request for IMAs with foreign language proficiency to support the event, and we were amazed by the response from diverse, talented Reservists who were excited to help.” 

During the event, a total of 12 foreign languages were represented by 11 IMA, Active Guard Reserve, and traditional reservists: Aklanon, Arabic, German, Hausa, Ilonggo, Indonesian, Italian, Malay, Polish, Spanish, Tagalog and Yoruba. Cameron said they were crucial not only to help the visitors feel welcome, but also to continually build relationships and trust with vital partners.   

The event, which also celebrated the U.S. Air Force’s 75th birthday, included a military tattoo, panels and presentations, a formal dinner, and an air show at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Reservists were able to meet the air chiefs, spouses and staffs during the various events, which helped make the conference successful.  

“The IACC provided a unique opportunity to engage directly with our allies and partners,” said Maj. Justin Mastrangelo, a Reserve foreign area officer who speaks Italian and is a member of the Joint Staff. “Even having a small role in this event allowed me to utilize many years of experience and training to support our mission and fostered opportunities to discuss current issues and solutions facing our air forces.” 

Cameron, who is wrapping up a year of active orders with the Secretary of the Air Force-Chief of Staff of the Air Force Strategic Execution Group, is hopeful Reservists will continue to support similar events in the future, leveraging their Air Force specialties, language skills and more.  

“Not only were the air chiefs grateful for our Airmen’s language capabilities, but the reservists also enjoyed the experience,” Cameron said. “Bringing people together and creating relationships, strengthening alliances and experiencing new ideas were some of the main goals of this event, and that happened at all levels.”