Cadets from 14 Latin American countries view a slideshow presentation on the capabilities of Team Dover's aircraft Oct. 11, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The cadets visited the U.S. as part of the Latin American Cadets Initiative sponsored by the Secretary of the Air Force International Affairs Staff.
Latin American cadets walk up the ramp of a C-5 Super Galaxy Oct. 11, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The cadets visited the U.S. as part of the Latin American Cadets Initiative sponsored by the Secretary of the Air Force International Affairs Staff.
by Airman 1st Class Samuel Taylor
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
10/16/2012 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- "Entonces, ¿de dónde son todos ustedes?" said Freddy Rodriguez, a C-17 Globemaster III pilot with the 3rd Airlift Squadron. Projected on the wall behind him were statistics of the performance capabilities of C-17s and C-5 Super Galaxy's.
"Chile!" one voice called out. Then "Argentina! Brazil! Nicaragua!" Around the room, voices proclaimed their country of origin.
"Bienvenidos a Dover Air Force Base," said Rodriguez.
Beaming back at him were 28 of Latin America's finest air force cadets, who were visiting Dover Air Force Base, Del., as part of the Latin American Cadet Initiative Oct. 11.
The LACI provides two top cadets from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Edcuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay a three-week visit to military and cultural landmarks around the U.S. These locations include Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas; the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.; the U.S. Air Force Academy; The Pentagon; and, of course, Dover AFB.
"The goal of this outreach initiative is to build bonds with our partner countries in Latin America," said Maj. Malcolm Pharr, a member of the Secretary of the Air Force's International Affairs Staff, Latin America and Africa Division. "We want to whet these cadets' appetites for further interaction between our Air Force and theirs."
The Air Force has a history of partnership with Latin American air forces. General Jorge Ballesteros Rodriguez, chief of staff of the Colombian air force, attended Air Command and Staff College in Alabama. The future leaders present during last week's visit said the experience would have a lasting impression on them.
Being here is like visiting another world, said Cadet Claudio Reyes of Santiago, Chile. The opportunity to meet new people and discover new technologies is great.
Cadet and future-pilot Diana Ruiz of Pillaro, Ecuador, echoed Reyes' sentiment.
It's important to foster good relationships between [the U.S. and Ecuador] because we benefit mutually, she said. One thing I can take back home and apply is an attitude displayed by the American service members we've seen: that no matter the obstacle, we will overcome it.