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80th FTW commander visits Slovakia to discuss ENJJPT

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- An entourage from the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program will make a trip to showcase the international training program to one of its newest partners. 

Col. Jeffrey Kendall, 80th Flying Training Wing commander, Maj. Bruce Dobbins and Cindy Slaughter, the program's financial manager at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, leave Monday to meet up with ENJJPT Steering Committee Chairman Air Commodore Peter Berlijn to visit with officials from the Slovakian Armed Forces Combat Air Force. 

"We have been invited to Slovakia to present our program," Major Dobbins said. "We are going to present what we do." 

Slovakia, formerly part of Czechoslovakia before the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, is situated just south of Poland and north of Hungary. It became an official NATO partner in the spring of 2004. 

The country has a small air force, comprised of a few jet fighters, transport and training aircraft. 

Major Dobbins said the country's chief of staff visited ENJJPT about a year ago, but the new chief of staff hasn't been briefed on the benefits of the program. He said the group would provide an overall wing mission brief, information on the current and future syllabuses of the program and answer any financial questions. 

"All we can do is give them a rough idea" of the costs of participation," the major said. "Cindy will be there to answer the 'what if' questions." 

The visit is part of the early stages of the European country to potentially join the only internationally-ran flying training program. Major Dobbins said it's also part of Colonel Kendall's goal to get all NATO partners on the same training page. 

"Colonel Kendall's desire ... is to change our training thoughts to meet international training needs," he said. 

There are opportunities for new NATO nations to become part of ENJJPT and solidify the already-valuable relationships seen during joint missions. Those opportunities could lead to more showcasing trips, Major Dobbins said. 

"This is the first-ever showcasing trip like this. This is new for ENJJPT," he said. "Hopefully there will be many more after this."