Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

The Air Advisor: The Face of US Air Force Engagement

Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

The Air Advisor: The Face of US Air Force Engagement

Article excerpt

Nestled in the local townships of small-town New Jersey is an Air Education and Training Command (AETC) schoolhouse with a small faculty of instructors who are packing quite a punch across the service and around the world. This school, the USAF Air Advisor Academy, educates and trains Airmen-diplomats from a wide range of Air Force career fields who will engage with counterparts in foreign security forces across the globe. More specifically, graduates of this unique institution apply their Air Force expertise to assess, train, educate, advise, assist, and equip partner-nation personnel.

Assigned to AETC's Second Air Force and 37th Training Wing, the Air Advisor Academy officially achieved full operating capability on 14 January 2013. The process began in early 2007, when substantial demand for general-purpose-force air advisors led the Air Force chief of staff to direct AETC to build a permanent predeployment training de- tachment. Since that time, the command has trained more than 3,400 air advisors, most of the early graduates serving as air advisors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now fully operational, the Air Advisor Academy has the capacity to train up to 1,500 Airmen annually. These individuals will advise counterparts in a multitude of nations across every region, supporting a wide array of contingency and peacetime missions around the world. As security challenges and strategic importance increase across the African Maghreb, for example, the Air Advisor Academy is poised to provide education and training to a whole host of Airmen deploying to that region as well.

The US military's responsibility to perform the advising function is steeped in policy and guidance. The US National Security Strategy directs a comprehensive, whole-of-govemment engagement strategy.1 To realize this vision, the national defense strategy-outlined in the document Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense- directs the Department of Defense (DOD) to 'build the capacity and competence of U.S., allied, and partner forces for internal and external defense.''2 Similarly, one of six key missions in the Quadrennial Defense Review Report of 2010 involves "build[ing] the security capacity of partner states.''3 According to the DOD's Defense Planning Guidance, "The US will work closely with allies and partners to ensure collective capability and capacity for securing common interests.''4 Finally, in support of this guidance, the National Military Strategy directs the services to "strengthen and . . . enable partner capacity to enhance security."5

The 2011 US Air Force Global Partnership Strategy, the service's guidance for the development of plans and programs to build global partnerships in support of national security objectives, grew out of this guidance.6 AETC, with the Air Advisor Academy in the lead, is enabling implementation of this engagement plan. In his commencement speech to US Air Force Academy graduates on 23 May 2012, President Barack Obama acknowledged that "today, Air Force personnel are serving in 135 nations-partnering, training, building their capacity. This is how peace and security will be upheld in the 21st century- more nations bearing the costs and responsibilities of leadership. And that's good for America. It's good for the world. And we're at the hub of it, making it happen."7 As the president's comments indicate, Air Force engagement efforts are in line with his administration's guidance. Tireless effort at the Air Advisor Academy has enabled the service to meet those requirements-a huge return on a small, well-placed investment.

In addition to offering in-residence courses that have fueled this success, Air Advisor Academy instructors recently took their air-advising education and training on the road, teaching air advising to US Air Force Airmen in Europe and the Pacific. In mid-January 2013, a team of instructors led by Maj Alex Richburg taught an air-advising course to 23 members of the 36th Airlift Squadron at Yokota Air Base (AB), Japan, preparing these Airmen for the multiple partner-nation engagement activities planned across the Pacific region over the next year. …

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