English, education opens doors of opportunity for AF Southern liaison officers

  • Published
  • By Jessica Casserly
  • 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs
(This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

Leaving family and country to represent your nation's air force abroad can be a daunting task for any service member, but for the Peruvian air force liaison officer at Air Forces Southern this experience is a humbling opportunity to improve personally and professionally.

Col. Jaime Aleman of the Peruvian air force -- who has served eight months of his two-year tour of duty as the AFSOUTH liaison officer (LNO) -- is using his time here to build partner capacity between the United States and Peru, while improving his English language skills.

Aleman, who has been serving in the Peruvian air force for 28 years, was selected for the LNO position by top leaders in his air force.

He attributes his nomination to the opportunities he was given throughout his career.

"I had the opportunity to study English and I'm still studying English," Aleman said. "I studied in Canada, I taught in Germany and Europe and I had the opportunity to work for the United Nations in Africa. But I am very humble and thankful to the Peruvian air force, who gave me the opportunity to work with integrity, service and excellence everywhere. It has been an amazing journey and a great way of life."

Tyrone Barbery, the LNO general program manager said a strong command of the English language is important for officers serving in LNO positions.

"The LNO candidates are required to take the English Comprehension Level (ECL) test in their respective countries and obtain at least 85 points," Barbery said. "If not, they may opt to study independently or to attend a formal school here in the U.S., the Defense Language Institute, to reach the required ECL level."

The English Comprehension Level Test, a mandatory exam for all incoming LNOs, gauges an individual's listening and reading comprehension of the English language. The Defense Language Institute reports test scores on a scale of 0 to 100.

Aleman has devoted much of his free time to improving his English skills in order to serve as Peru's representative at AFSOUTH and he continues to build on that foundation.

"I contracted a private teacher (in preparation for the LNO position) and every day I try to improve my level of English," Aleman said. "Now, I'm still studying at the University of Arizona at their Center of English as a Second Language, in order to improve my writing and reading. I love the English language and I think it is so important. It's the language of opportunity, it's the key of the world and I'm studying to be a professor of English in my country, to give my students opportunities and open and expand their horizons."

While he is serving as the Peruvian LNO for Air Forces Southern, Aleman is using his passion for language and learning to inspire the United States Air Force Airmen he works alongside.

"I try to be an example," Aleman said. "If you have a dream you have to work for that. It depends on you. You have to study and work hard to accomplish your dream. If you want to, you can. It depends on the effort you invest. It is important to me to be a good example for the young (Air Force) officer, to encourage them to improve their knowledge, their experiences and to encourage them not to forget their values."

During the time he has left serving as a Peruvian LNO, Aleman said he hopes to strengthen the ties between the U.S. and the Peruvian air forces in order to build a better future for both countries.

"Communication, coordination and incorporation are so important between our countries," Aleman said. "The most important thing is the perspective to create and build a partner capacity relationship between our two countries. Together everyone achieves more -- together we can make a difference. It is easy to say, but sometimes it is not easy to do. We have to work hard every day to reach a better future for the United States and also for my country."