Technically the Best - Internationally!

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Richard Devereaux
  • 82nd Training Wing commander
I talk frequently about Sheppard being "technically the best" at what we do - our USAF training mission.

But, in the intensity of that mission, it's easy to forget that we are also an international training center of excellence. The 82nd Training Wing trains international students from air forces around the globe, and of course, Col. Jeff Kendall's 80th Flying Training Wing provides NATO's only international pilot training program, supporting 12 NATO partners.
Last year, the 80th's ENJJPT operation produced nearly 200 new pilots for NATO.

I had the pleasure of experiencing the ENJJPT mission first-hand on Monday while flying a T-37 formation sortie with the 80th Ops Group Commander Col. Axel Pohlmann and the outgoing and incoming commanders of the 89th Flying Training Squadron, Lt. Cols. John McDevitt and Vittorio Cencini.

For me personally, the flight was a real deja vu experience - it had been 23 years since my last flight as an instructor pilot in the T-37 back at Reese AFB, Texas. As a "heavy pilot," it was quite a thrill to fly acro, formation and pull a few Gs again. I was impressed by the ruggedness of the T-37 and the professional and seamless way in which the 80th operations and maintenance teams came together to launch and support our sortie.

But more importantly, I was struck by the fact that half the pilots in this formation were not USAF. A German AF ops group commander and an Italian AF soon-to-be squadron commander were briefing, leading and instructing in a common, standardized manner, in a way that any U.S. or NATO aviator could understand.

It was easy to forget that I was part of an international training mission.

Our ENJJPT program here at Sheppard embodies the international spirit and cooperation that is so necessary to support coalition operations and ultimately win the Global War on Terror. Air Forces who train together, build relationships together and ultimately fight together can provide an incredible force for peace and stability in our world.

And of course, the same relationships and common frames of references that are being formed in the 80th are also taking place in the 82nd Training Wing.

Today, we have 15 international students here at Sheppard, taking a variety of tech training courses, learning the skills necessary to contribute to their air forces, but also building the relationships and bonds to our U.S. Air Force that we hope will last a lifetime. These are the relationships that are so necessary for us to collectively prevail in the Global War on Terrorism.

Many of you will see further evidence of Sheppard's global outreach today as we host a visiting delegation of seven Pakistani Air Force officers led by Air Vice Marshall Muhammah Hassan, the Commander of the Pakistan Air Force Academy. During their visit to Sheppard, these officers hope to discover ways to enhance their officer and enlisted training programs and perhaps send more students to Sheppard!

Pakistan is an essential U.S. partner in GWOT and recently committed to purchasing 18 new F-16s to support its antiterrorism campaign in its western border region. We are proud that Sheppard and the 82nd are able to play such a vital role in helping the Pakistani AF be an effective, stabilizing force in the region.

Team Sheppard - thanks for all you do to keep us "technically the best" at supporting not only the USAF but also our international partners, as we work together to fight terrorism and contribute to peace and stability around the globe!