First USAF female officer attends Royal Thai Air Force Air Command and Staff College

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force International Affairs

The Department of the Air Force sent its first female Airman, Maj. Jessica Padoemthontaweekij, to participate in the Royal Thai Air Force Air Command and Staff College, Oct. 3, after it opened admission to its first class of female officers.

The RTAF opened its ACSC eligibility policy to female attendees in an effort to promote diversity and inclusion and have sent an additional five RTAF female officers to join Padoemthontaweekij, an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force.

The Department of the Air Force has a long history of sending male and female Airmen and Guardians to learn at schools hosted by allies and partners, and vice versa, to help build deep and enduring relationships.

"Leaving talent on the table means we're leaving lethality on the table, and we're not about to do that. I'm proud that we could take this step forward together with the Royal Thai Air Force – a significant step toward strengthening the enduring U.S.-Thailand alliance,” said Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones.

In 2021, Jones directed a review of gender-specific policies, and as a result, the DAF identified the opportunity to send female officers to the RTAF ACSC. The alliance between the U.S. and Thailand is built on 200 years of friendship and rooted in strong people-to-people ties. Professional military education and personnel exchanges allow U.S. and Thai officers to develop connections that provide mutual benefits well into the future.

The U.S. Air Force developed a close partnership with the RTAF by previously sending male officers to the RTAF ACSC and will further strengthen that relationship by sending Padoemthontaweekij.

“I am excited about the opportunity to learn and integrate with the Royal Thai Air Force, and to be a part of a momentous step forward in the integration and representation of women leadership and diversity in this bilateral military partnership,” she said.

This is not the first time the Department of the Air Force has sent female officers to work with the RTAF. The Department of the Air Force Military Personnel Exchange Program sent its first female officer to support an RTAF maintenance squadron in February 2019. Currently, the U.S. Air Force has four exchange officers with the RTAF, including three female officers.

Since 1970, the RTAF has sent 128 male Thai officers to complete ACSC and Air War College in-residence training at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Additionally, the U.S. Air Force is sending its first officer, a male, to Thai Air War College in 2023.

The Department of the Air Force’s own gender integration efforts have led to more effective and capable Air and Space Forces, and feed into the broader U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security. A DAF WPS Strategic Action Plan is scheduled for release in fiscal year 2023.