37th TRW - Inter-American Air Forces Academy [37th TRW - IAAFA]
The Inter-American Air Forces Academy (IAAFA) conducts almost 70 technical, professional, and management courses in Spanish for almost 1,000 students a year from the armed forces and governmental agencies of up to 18 Latin American countries.
The academy relocated from Homestead AFB, Florida, in 1992. As of mid-2001, IAAFA had graduated more than 32,000 students from 25 countries.
The mission of the Inter-American Air Forces Academy is to train and educate Latin American forces in Spanish to support National Interests.
One key aspect to the IAAFA mission is promoting inter-Americanism within the region. Interaction with US, regional, and worldwide counterparts allow students to compare differences in military roles, and regional viewpoints, serving as a catalyst for potential interoperability. Another significant aspect of the IAAFA program is its commitment toward exposing its students to the American lifestyle. Through the congressionally-mandated Informational Program (IP), students are provided exposure to the U.S. culture, government, and peoples. Students are afforded the opportunity to visit local and state seats of government, city courts, museums, historical landmarks, and other points of interest. An extension of the IP Program, the Amistad (Friendship) program actually pairs students with volunteer families from the local community to have cultural exchanges.
With a staff of Spanish speaking Air Force instructors, IAAFA provides instruction for both officers and enlisted personnel in over 60 supervisory, specialization, and technical-academic courses including aircraft systems and maintenance (including OV-10A, A-37B, F-5F, C-130B, UH-1H), helicopter maintenance, electronics, communications, intelligence, supply, logistics, air base ground defense, security, pilot instrument procedures, computer resources, and information systems management). The length of these courses vary from 1 to 16 weeks, with 30 to 35 percent of that time spent on academic theory and the remainder of the time dedicated to extensive "hands-on" training.
Training at IAAFA is conducted at three geographically separated locations: Lackland AFB, Kelly AFB, and US Army's Camp Bullis (located just north of San Antonio, outside the city limits). Camp Bullis proves the ideal environment for conducting the intensive air base ground defense and security force courses.
The Inter-American Air Forces Academy (IAAFA) predates the US Air Force itself. Founded on 15 March 1943, at the request of Peruvian Minister of Aeronautics, General Fernando Melgar, the academy trained 11 Peruvian students at Albrook Field, Panama Canal Zone, marking the first US aeronautics training in Latin America (LATAM).
In the 1940s and 50s, the academy expanded and changed in response to potential conflict in the Western Hemisphere and the world at large. The student load increased to almost 400 students a year. In 1952, the Commandant established the format of today's IAAFA, emphasizing "hands-on" training, including officer courses, and creating a "student section" responsible for military and athletic instruction and US cultural awareness. In response to US emphasis in LATAM, the academy changed from the "Central and South American Air School," to the "United States Air Force School for Latin American," to finally "The Inter-American Air Forces Academy" in 1966.
IAAFA supported the "Alliance for Progress" of the 1960s, teaching courses in special air operations, medical civic action, and communications at the same apprentice, specialization, and supervisory tiers used in the USAF. With aircraft such as the F-86, IAAFA helped regional air forces progress into the jet age. IAAFA introduced the guest instructor program in 1962 to increase the interface between US and LATAM's military personnel; greatly enhancing the quality of instructors and the methods of instruction. It also introduced Mobile Training Teams (MTTs) to provide critical, on-the-spot training in LATAM. A resolution at the 10th Annual Meeting of the Commanders of the American Air Forces (CONJEFAMER) designated the Commanders honorary directors of the academy. As such, they provide advice and identify training requirements on a regular basis.
After a declining student trend in the late 1970s, IAAFA experienced renewed interest in 1980s, training an average 850 students a year. On 30 September 1989, it closed its doors at Albrook AFS, Panama, and moved to Homestead AFB, FL, reopening 100 days later on 9 January 1990. On 23 September 1992, following almost-complete destruction by Hurricane Andrew, IAAFA relocated to Lackland AFB, TX, once again opening its doors just under 100 days later, on 11 January 1993.
On 2 June 1993, IAAFA realigned from Air Combat Command to Air Education and Training Command, joining the most professional training environment in the USAF. On 24 October 1994, IAAFA redesignated at the group level as HQ IAAFA and activated the 318th Training Squadron and the 837th Training Support Squadron.
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