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Air Force members receive 2014 International Affairs Excellence Award

Air Force Association Chairman of the Board Scott Van Cleef, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III present the 2014 International Affairs Excellence Award to Lt. Col. Kathleen Le, Senior Master Sgt. Eric Gaona and Grisel Mundo-Love as part of opening ceremonies for the Air Force Association’s 2015 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 14, 2015, in Washington, D.C.  This was the first year the award has been split into four categories: officer, enlisted, senior civilian and junior civilian.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)

Air Force Association Chairman of the Board Scott Van Cleef, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III present the 2014 International Affairs Excellence Award to Lt. Col. Kathleen Le, Senior Master Sgt. Eric Gaona and Grisel Mundo-Love as part of opening ceremonies for the Air Force Association’s 2015 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 14, 2015, in Washington, D.C. This was the first year the award has been split into four categories: officer, enlisted, senior civilian and junior civilian. (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force members accepted the 2014 International Affairs Excellence Award during the Air Force Association’s 2015 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 14. This was the first year the award was split into four categories: officer, enlisted, senior civilian and junior civilian.

The International Affairs Excellence Award is presented annually for outstanding and innovative contributions effective in building, sustaining, expanding and guiding Air Force-to-partner relationships.

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and AFA Chairman of the Board Scott P. Van Cleef presented the award to Capt. Kathleen Le, Senior Master Sgt. Eric Gaona and Grisel Mundo-Love as part of opening ceremonies for the three-day event. The senior civilian recipient, Matthew P. Giles, was deployed to Afghanistan and could not accept the award in person.

Le is the 96th Test Group executive officer, stationed at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. According to her award citation, Le was responsible for procuring training for the Afghanistan Army, Air Force and police, totaling more than 2.1 billion dollars through the execution of 89 foreign military sales cases. Her efforts fulfilled Afghanistan National Security Forces training requirements and provided an enduring capability for the future

Gaona serves as the Inter-American Air Forces Academy superintendent at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. Gaona led 46 instructors, enabling the delivery of 10,000 training hours to students from 21 partner nations. He also enabled his team to execute the Department of State’s first Afghanistan Air Force A-29 aircraft maintenance training. Gaona’s professionalism was key to his selection as mentor for Colombian Air Force senior enlisted leaders during the 21st Century Noncommissioned Officer event.

Giles has served as a civilian in the Defense Department for more than six years. He was the Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asia branch chief, and Afghanistan country director, Central Command divisions of the regional directorate, deputy under secretary of the Air Force for international affairs. Giles directed Afghan training and modernization efforts, laying the foundation for future independent Afghan Air Force combat missions. His monthly briefs to the secretary of the Air Force on the Afghan buildup, training, and equipment were instrumental in shaping senior policy via his trusted analysis. His leadership and broad regional expertise kept partner acquisition strategies on track, ensuring U.S. government policies and objectives were met.

Mundo-Love is currently the Air Force Special Operations Command language, regional expertise and culture program manager. Mundo-Love delivered 42,799 student contact hours in 37 language acquisition programs, better preparing special operations forces for worldwide foreign internal defense and building partner capacity missions. She successfully graduated 392 students in strategic languages, including Arabic, Indonesian, Pashto and Dari. Mundo-Love’s leadership was recognized with the U.S. Special Operations Command’s Language Institution of the Year Award in 2014.

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