Capt. Shannon Antonson, United States Air Forces in Europe plans and requirements officer for African partnerships, talks to Maj. Sheik Ahad from Mauritius during the court observation portion of the Building Partner Aviation Capacity Course, Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., Dec. 11, 2012. By opening the course to international students, BPACC endeavors to build mutual understanding between the United States and partner nations on the unique environments and opportunities to bolster national security measures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Melanie Holochwost)
by Senior Airman Melanie Holochwost
Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs
12/14/2012 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- More than 30 servicemembers and civil servants from 10 different countries gathered here to attend the Building Partner Aviation Capacity Course Dec. 3 through today.
BPACC was designed as an avenue for Air Force Special Operations Command to create, nurture or deepen partnerships with foreign militaries, sister services, and other Air Force major commands.
During the course, international students from Afghanistan, Angola, Cote D'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Germany, Mauritius, Paraguay, Rwanda and Zambia embedded with American students from across the joint aviation community, including not only Special Operations Forces, but general purpose Air Force, Army and Navy organizations.
One of the students, Lt. Col. Gabriel Medina, Dominican Republic Air Force Academy vice commander and fighter pilot, said the course opened his eyes to the strategic side of aviation.
"I learned that sometimes leaders use aviation to develop things that don't have anything to do with the military or even aviation," he said. "For example, aviation can be used as a tool to build tourism, which is the largest source of revenue in my country."
Prior to this course, Medina said he never understood why there were so many airports in the Dominican Republic.
"I thought it was happening by accident because we have a lot of airports for such a small country," he said. "But, now I understand there was probably a clear purpose and objective behind it - tourism.
"Basically, when you build an international airport, tourists will come," Medina added.
Maj. Frank Weise, German Air Forces Command plans and requirements officer, said he attended BPACC to prepare for future missions.
"Germany is geographically close to Africa so it makes sense that we will increase our involvement with them in the future," he said. "If there is an opportunity to go to Africa, I will apply for it. This way I can bring the information I learned in this course down to the tactical level on the field."
Weise said the course also gave him one thing that wasn't listed in the syllabus.
"I have seven new friends from Africa," he said. "That alone is a great tool to take with me."
12/19/2012 8:37:02 AM ET This is the aspect of the Air Force I enjoy most. Teaching and mentoring other countries now let's do it among ourselves within the USAF and we'll be trackingExcellent work by AFSOC as always