SAN ANTONIO – Here in San Antonio, or Military City, USA, there is a lot that takes place that perhaps many are not privy to. Our men and women in uniform are making major contributions to the world, in more ways than one.
Behind the walls of Lackland Air Force Base exists an installation exclusive to San Antonio, their Inter-American Air Forces Academy.
“IAAFA offers one of the most unique missions in the United States Air Force arsenal, and that is, we provide instruction to our partner nations in Latin America, across 32 different courses, all in Spanish,” said Jose Jimenez, commandant, IAAFA.
The academy is older than the United States Air Force itself, celebrating almost 80-years of service, and provides military education and training to personnel across 12-partner nations. And if you’re wondering why this is so important, Jimenez answers that in two simple words: security-cooperation.
“We need partners, and we need them more than ever next to our borders. So, Latin America serves as a very critical strategic point where we need to make friendships, influence partnerships and of course, build such capacity that when needed, we can all operate in the same event -- whether it’s a hurricane or any other crises; we can help each other out,” Jimenez said.
Instructors at IAAFA have also had the opportunity to visit with partner nations to assess how the skills learned have been used in their home countries.
For technical sergeant Luis Velez, that experience was most recently with the Mexican Navy, who needed an effective logistical system in place.
“We provided the training that basically made me sure that Mexico was not just organizing their system, but their manpower. So, we were able to assess and basically tied everything that we are doing. And when you go to a Mexican Navy warehouse now, you see what the United States Air Force did there so much that you couldn’t even tell apart. The same warehouse, same training. And to me, that’s great, because we’re not changing just lives, but nations,” Velez said.
From security forces training to logistical support, IAAFA creates a one-of-a-kind experience for both American-instructors and instructors-to-be, who say traveling to San Antonio and learning from the very best is an absolute privilege.