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RSAF CLO Ribbon Cutting
Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick (left) and Royal Saudi Air Force Lt. Col. Abdulrahman Alkhmees cut the ribbon at the official opening of the RSAF Country Liason Office here April 8. The renovated Country Liaison Office and nearby dorms will be used to support increased RSAF technical training at Sheppard. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Meredith Hein)
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Sheppard celebrates opening of RSAF Country Liaison Office

Posted 4/10/2013   Updated 4/10/2013 Email story   Print story


by 2nd Lt. Meredith Hein
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

4/10/2013 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The Royal Saudi Air Force Country Liaison Office celebrated its official opening during a ribbon cutting ceremony here April 8.

Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick, 2nd Air Force commander, presided over the ceremony during his visit to Sheppard.

"Our mission is to train and inspire Airmen," said Brig. Gen. Michael Fantini, 82nd Training Wing commander. "Together, we are able to strengthen the partnerships of cross-cultural trust among Airmen at all levels."

Royal Saudi Air Force Lt. Col. Abdulrahman Alkhmees, the senior RSAF country liaison officer, was given the honor of cutting the ribbon.

There has been an influx in the number of Saudi technical training students in recent months in the F-15 modernization program. This increase is the result of a $29.4 billion foreign military sale, which enabled the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to purchase 84 new F-15 fighter aircraft as well as upgrade the 70 F-15 aircraft in the current fleet.

Due to increased training, the RSAF required a more permanent residence at Sheppard. The newly renovated Country Liaison Office contains office space and meeting rooms for the country liaison officers.

Additionally, Saudi students will be able to move into their own recently renovated dorm rooms as early as April 13. The dorms contain 300 rooms, which offer space for a total of 594 Saudi students in training here.

"Our journey together hasn't been without its share of bumps, and I'm sure there will be more bumps as we continue on our way," Fantini said. "But this is a huge success for Team Sheppard as we move forward."

The RSAF has already found success at Sheppard, however, as the first F-15 avionics class with Saudi airmen graduated in March.

Overall, about 120 Saudi students have graduated from a variety of courses at Sheppard, including the aircraft officer maintenance course and basic instructor course. Currently, there are Saudi students in six different technical training courses at Sheppard. Students range in rank from airmen to lieutenant colonels.

The 82nd Training Wing fosters a robust international program, with 11 countries currently represented with students in 13 courses.

There are currently 42 Saudi students in the F-15 avionics course, with more expected to arrive in coming months.

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