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Developing leaders while developing partnerships

Military members from the United States Air Force and Colombian military stand in front of an aircraft Aug. 25, 2016 at the Colombian Air Mobility Command Headquarters in Bogota, Colombia. The service members recently completed Interamerican Squadron Officer School and the Interamerican Noncommissioned Officer Academy. (Courtesy Photo)

Military members from the United States Air Force and Colombian military stand in front of an aircraft Aug. 25, 2016 at the Colombian Air Mobility Command Headquarters in Bogota, Colombia. The service members recently completed Interamerican Squadron Officer School and the Interamerican Noncommissioned Officer Academy. (Courtesy Photo)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --

Growing up in Puerto Rico, I never imagined I would be stationed on the beautiful island of Guam. Much less, that I would be able to complete Inter-American Squadron Officer School, a required professional military education course, in my native language of Spanish. Thanks to the Language-Enabled Airman Program and the Inter-American Air Forces Academy, I spent six weeks in Bogota, Colombia, doing just that.

Four captains, three technical sergeants and I were chosen to complete ISOS and Inter-American Non-Commissioned Officer Academy as part of an intercultural exchange between Colombia and the United States. Thirty-seven Colombian air force, army, navy, marine officers and NCO’s joined us as we learned not only leadership and teamwork, but also about each other’s countries and customs.

Both ISOS and INCOA courses overlapped to show the cooperation and trust between officers and enlisted members. Several team events, both mental and physical, encouraged teamwork, leadership and followership for all involved.

By being able to experience the course with our Colombian military partners, we gained insights, knowledge, and experience that we would never have gained otherwise. You can read about another country, or even see it on television, but being there and interacting is a completely different experience. We were there when the peace treaty was signed; we saw history being made and were able to understand how our new friends felt about the end of the 50-year conflict. This was the second time that U.S. members had been afforded the opportunity to attend the courses outside of the United States.

The LEAP is designed and managed by the Air Force Culture and Language Center to sustain, enhance and utilize the existing language skills and talents of Airmen. The goal of this program is to develop a core group of general-purpose force Airmen across specialties and careers possessing the capability to communicate in one or more foreign languages. To become a participant in LEAP, Airmen must already have moderate to high levels of proficiency in a foreign language specified on the Air Force Strategic Language List, as measured by Defense Language Proficiency Tests or Oral Proficiency Interviews.

For more information on the LEAP, go to: http://culture.af.mil/leap/index.aspx