By Geraldine Cook/Diálogo April 04, 2018 The spate of natural disasters that Latin America and the Caribbean experienced in 2017 keeps the air forces of the region busy. Heavy rains, massive hurricanes, and high-magnitude earthquakes, which leave hundreds of victims, unrecoverable material losses, and security threats, prompt air forces to unite and prepare. More than 100 commissioned and non-commissioned officers and other regional leaders came together in the third Western Hemisphere Exchange Symposium, organized by the Inter-American Air Forces Academy (IAAFA). The symposium was held March 12-16, 2018, in San Antonio, Texas. The goal was to share best practices and lessons learned on humanitarian aid and disaster response, maintenance and upkeep of aircraft, command and control of airspace, and operations against narcotrafficking. “Welcome to IAAFA. IAAFA is all of us,” said U.S. Air Force Colonel Isaac Davidson, IAAFA commandant, during his opening speech. “This symposium will generate conversations and allow us to learn best practices to handle resources for the population during an emergency situation, among other issues.” The symposium was marked with events celebrating the institution’s 75th anniversary, which included a gala dinner, a student athletic competition, and a tour of the academic facilities, among other activities. Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, a delegate from the countries of the Caribbean Regional Security System, and several U.S. military organizations participated in the international event. The Ecuadorean Air Force knows the importance of the issue firsthand. “The symposium allows us to analyze the issues that affect the region, for example, risk management, earthquakes, and floods that affect us all. These conferences help us visualize the best way to unite,” said Ecuadorean Air Force Brigadier General Marco Rubio Brito Jurado, commander of the Education and Doctrine Command. “When the earthquake happened in Ecuador, we knew we weren’t alone, we were with our sister countries.” Cooperating on natural disasters “This symposium allows us to experience that, instead of being closed off to the world and mistrusting our neighbors; we trust that our neighbors will come to help us in times of crisis,” said Peruvian Air Force Colonel Jaime Chávez, chief of Operations of the Air Force General Staff Operations Command. “It allows us to trust that, when a natural phenomenon occurs, we have a neighbor that thinks like we do and will be the first to arrive to help.” Argentine Air Force Major General Oscar Emilio Palumbo, general director of Military Aerospace Operational Security, said, “The symposium facilitates the exchange of experiences shared by countries of the region. [We can] draw conclusions that allow us to increase our efficiency throughout the area of operation in natural disasters, among other matters.” “Cooperation among countries is the key to responding to questions that are addressed during presentations at the symposium… No country can do it alone,” said U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Albert Nieves, commander of the 837rd Training Squadron of IAAFA. “These forums help us recognize the strengths of partner nations and the areas in which they can contribute to our shared vision.” A shared history “Many of the generals and commanders of the air forces that are here were once IAAFA students,” said Brazilian Air Force Major Allan Buch Sampaio, an IAAFA guest instructor. “My students are leaders whose countries identified as having a bright future. Without a doubt, they will be at the highest levels when the time comes.” IAAFA opened its doors in 1943 at the Albrook Air Force Station in Panama. Since then, it became the first academic institution for regional air forces to offer technical and military instruction, mainly in Spanish. It also created a shared forum to learn, debate, and plan in cooperation with other air forces. “I took the leadership course in 1997. My experience at IAAFA was enriching and helped me a lot in my military and personal career,” said Brigadier General Timo Hernández Duarte, commander of the Guatemalan Air Force, as he pointed to a photograph of himself with the class of 97C. “Today in my capacity as commander, I want to express my gratitude for the benefits we received from this institution. I represent the voice of the commissioned and non-commissioned officers of the Guatemalan Air Force who came and benefitted from the academy.” To be part of the history of IAAFA, a prestigious academy with a long tradition that builds international and long-lasting partnerships, is a great honor for many. “It’s been an excellent opportunity and a gratifying experience,” said Colombian Air Force Non-Commissioned Officer Academy and IAAFA student Víctor Alexis Pinzón Pérez. “It’s important for my family that I be here. [You are introduced to] different cultures and learn a lot.” “IAAFA has been a second home for me,” said Panamanian National Air and Naval Service Second Lieutenant Carlos Javier Salazar Díaz, also an IAAFA student. “They don’t receive us as foreigners, but as just another member of their air force where friendship is shared.” After an intense day of debates during the symposium and IAAFA anniversary activities, participants returned to their countries with new knowledge. “We analyzed various issues that are important to our countries,” said Major General Ivan Guillermo Pérez Rojas, general commander of the Bolivian Air Force. “You take experiences with you that can be used in each of our systems.” For Lt. Col. Nieves, the anniversary of IAAFA represents a regional achievement. “It has been 75 years of a hemisphere that has united to fight against our shared challenges. Throughout these last 75 years, a history of success prevailed throughout the region,” he concluded.
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After shooting poorly earlier in the week against Virginia, Wisconsin found a way to right the ship at home Sunday afternoon.Behind a 51.7 percent shooting effort from the field and a 14-0 run in the first half, Wisconsin (5-3) gave California (6-1) its first loss of the year, stomping the Golden Bears 81-56 in front of an announced crowd of 16,596 fans at the Kohl Center.Leading the Badgers in an all-around effort was the solid play of Ben Brust, as the junior guard led all UW players in scoring with a team-high 22 points. Brust showed a little bit of everything against the Bears with his high-energy play, connecting on three of his six attempts from three-point range while also making a few circus layups.Rounding out the offensive effort for the Badgers were the double-figure scoring efforts of Jared Berggren (18), Ryan Evans (13) and Sam Dekker (10).It was a redeeming game on the boards for Wisconsin, which dropped a disappointing game at home to the Virginia Cavaliers Wednesday after shooting just 38 percent from the floor.“There were a lot of the same looks; it’s just a matter of stepping up to the plate, being a man and finishing the play,” Brust said of the difference between the two games. “It was good that the looks were there again; we just have to finish throughout the year.”Brust’s 9-for-13 shooting performance from the field exemplified the guard’s strong shot selection on clean, open looks – save for one circus layup and a three-pointer from three steps past half-court.“I watched him as a junior and senior in high school trying to recruit him,” California head coach Mike Montgomery said. “Ben’s a deep shooter; we talked about the fact that you could not let him stand and shoot it deep on the catch and we obviously did not heed that.”Wisconsin’s defense did a solid job containing Cal, outrebounding its adversary 36-30 and forcing 23 turnovers. The Badgers scored 25 points off the turnovers, the final difference between the two teams on the scoreboard.But even though the margin of victory was large, the play of Wisconsin remained far from perfect.The team struggled to keep 2012 first team all-Pac-12 guard Allen Crabbe from scoring as he pleased. Crabbe – who entered the game leading the Pac-12 in scoring at 22 per game – dropped 25 on the Badgers behind an 8-for-15 shooting performance.The Badgers did manage to hold the Pac-12’s second leading scorer, junior guard Justin Cobbs, to just 11 points, well below his season average of 20.Two areas where the program has excelled under head coach Bo Ryan, free throws and turnovers, were both lacking in Sunday’s game as well.The team shot just 14-for-25 from the charity stripe, a measly 56 percent, with freshman sensation Dekker going 1-for-4 and Evans 3-for-6.“In a game like this we had more free throws,” Ryan said. “There are certain guys you want on the free throw line more than others. On the turnovers … you have to live with it because (the game’s) already been played. But, can you do that night in and night out against teams that don’t extend out that much? No, you can’t end up with that many.”Finding major minutes for Wisconsin off the bench again was freshman guard Zak Showalter. Showalter, whose father played for Ryan at UW-Platteville, continued to show tough-nosed play on defense Sunday, registering five points, three assists and a steal.With Ryan still shuffling his starting lineup at the point guard position between George Marshall and Traevon Jackson, Showalter once again provided critical depth off the bench for Wisconsin.“He plays the game with a passion,” Ryan said. “Like it matters to him, he cares, he wants to make something good happen. And he’s a spark plug, especially defensively at times. He’s a guy that has to give us good minutes.”The Bears kept it close for just five minutes, holding a one-point lead until a layup by sophomore big man Frank Kaminsky made the score 7-6, as the Badgers orchestrated a 14-0 run that lasted more than four minutes.Although Cal’s defensive pressure helped bring the deficit down to just 11 points in the opening minute of the second half, three-straight points from Evans and a three-pointer from Berggren provided the water to extinguish any proverbial fire the Bears tried to start.“I know Bo Ryan’s teams well enough to know what you’re going to get when you come here,” Montgomery said. “When Virginia came in here and beat them we were going to get them at their best in terms of their effort and physicality. … I’m disappointed we lost our poise and didn’t compete.”Follow Nick on Twitter read more