Guardsmen and Partner Nations Attend Air Force’s First All-Spanish SNCO International Course> Air Force> Post Display

Two National Air Guardsmen participated in the first international senior non-commissioned officer course organized in Spanish by the Inter-American Air Force Academy (IAAFA) at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Oct. 4-Dec. 8.

The mission of the IAAFA is to provide education and training to military personnel in the Americas and partner countries. In support of this initiative, the IAAFA reconstructed the Air Force SNCO course to meet the needs of Spanish-speaking Total Force Airmen and international students.

Staff Sgt. Diana Melero-Sena, from the New Mexico Air National Guard, was one of two Citizen Airmen to participate in the course.

“I am the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, so I grew up speaking Spanish in my home,” Melero-Sena said. “When I heard about the IAFAA and that they were going to have an SNCO course in Spanish, I knew I had to apply. Also, our unit has a state partnership with Costa Rica, that was perfect.

Similar to Melero-Sena, New Mexico Air National Guard Master Sgt. Reiner Herrera was motivated to attend the course by her Hispanic heritage.

“I was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and moved to the United States in 1998,” Herrera said. “Knowing first-hand the transnational crimes and global threats occurring in South America, it touches home. My goal is to do what I can to be a positive representative of [Latino] culture. That’s why I signed up for this course, and it was an honor to attend.

The eight-week ISNCO in-residence course aimed to equip today’s military leaders with the skills, strategies and tools to effectively lead enlisted troops while simultaneously incorporating an IAAFA flair.

“Because we all knew a common language, we were able to break down barriers almost instantly,” said Melero-Sena. “This is what is interesting about IAAFA… the added twist of learning alongside Spanish speakers from partner countries has allowed us to build a base to work together in the future. “

In addition to teaching the basics of leadership, the course encouraged students to develop lasting professional relationships and practice their ability to integrate strengths seamlessly.

“It’s extremely important to have a learning platform like this so that when we get operational we have that experience that we can come back to,” Herrera said. “Collaborating together, learning together, even discovering each other’s culture, all of this is essential to carry out the mission together. “

The launch of the ISNCO course reflects the Air Force’s continued commitment to leveraging the diverse background, experience and perspective of each Airman to enrich the company.

“The fact that PME is conducted in Spanish allows Total Force’s integration with partner nation forces to counter threats and show how far the Air Force has progressed,” Melero-Sena said. “I am proud that the Air Force sees our diversity and wants us to use our unique skills and backgrounds to move the mission forward. “

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