JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – Class 2021-B – the largest in-person class to graduate from the Inter-American Air Forces Academy since COVID struck approximately 17 months ago – celebrated the cadre and student body’s accomplishments at the Gateway Club here Aug. 11. Making the ceremony even more memorable was the guest speaker, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass.
Bass, who was in San Antonio to attend the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit, opened the banquet with an African proverb.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together,” she said.
“Our enduring partnership guarantees … the security and prosperity that we want in our world. And that partnership is created through opportunities like tonight,” Bass said. “Through training and development, through education, through cooperation and interoperability – as we seek to understand the unique strengths that we all bring to the table – we will continue to develop programs and opportunities in training and exercises in order to be partners for a long time.”
Bass challenged the graduates to embrace the culture of diversity when they returned to their home countries.
“In the United States Air Force we trust our Airmen. We empower our Airmen. We have faith in our Airmen and confident they can execute any mission we give them,” she said. “And I challenge each and every of you here today to take that same message back to your air force, to your army, to your navy, and to your police force. The culture that we have and the readiness we have in our force is non-negotiable. And this requires that we embrace the culture of diversity – the diversity of thought, the diversity of gender, of background and talents and skills. We must create a culture that every single person can thrive in and be their very best in their service and for their nation.”
Col. Jose Jimenez, IAAFA commandant, said it was a great honor to have Bass speak to the graduates and to co-host SELIS with her.
“Chief Bass embodies the professionalism and expertise our academy instills to our partner nations through our expansive academic catalogue,” Jimenez said.
“The opportunity to play a key role in SELIS also highlights the strategic role IAAFA plays to carry out AETC’s, 2nd Air Force’s and the 37th Training Wing’s Security Cooperation priorities. Our cadre and staff are excited to welcome a larger class during C-Cycle and to continue to show IAAFA’s all-in commitment to the Warhawk ‘returning back to better’ mantra,” Jimenez added.
The class of 134 included 121 International Military Students from nine countries and 13 U.S. military members – 89 enlisted and 45 officers. The previous day the graduates had walked the stage at IAAFA and received their wings.
Some of the 14 classes these graduates attended included Professional Military Education, Pilot Instrument Procedures, Corrosion Control, and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Fundamentals. The partner nation countries represented were Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, and Uruguay.