North American Air Chiefs Conference welcomes U.S. border nations
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Military and civilian leaders from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. attended the first-ever North American Regional Air Chiefs Conference hosted by 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern) June 8-12.
The attendees participated in a variety of mission briefings and interactive discussions designed to improve and foster relationships between U.S. Northern Command, of which 1st Air Force is a part, and other military and civilian organizations throughout North America.
Mexican military officers attending the Air Chiefs Conference said their stay here was a positive and eye-opening experience that will enhance relationships between their country and the United States and help resolve mutual homeland security challenges in the future.
“Our visit here has greatly exceeded our objectives and expectations,” said Maj. Gen. Carlos Antonio Rodriguez Munguia, deputy director of Operations for the Mexican Air Force.
One major benefit in attending the conference, General Rodriquez Munguia said, was having the opportunity to learn, first-hand, more about the close working relationship between 1st Air Force and the Air and Marine Operations Center in Riverside, Calif.
The AMOC, a division of Customs and Border Protection, provides homeland security along U.S. borders. First Air Force assists the AMOC with border threats that call for high, fast-flying fighter aircraft owned and operated by the Air Force.
“We were able to observe the tremendous coordination between these entities,” General Munguia said.
The Mexican Air Force leader was accompanied by a delegation of fellow Mexican military officers, including Rear Admiral Anselmo Díaz Cid, general director of Naval Aviation for the Mexican Navy.
Admiral Díaz Cid reiterated many of the positive comments made by his Mexican Air Force colleague related to the partnership between 1st Air Force and AMOC.
He emphasized that the conference offered him a better understanding of how U.S. military and civilian agencies are organized, how they interact and what resources are available to work with Mexico on border security issues, including drug and arms trafficking and illegal immigration.
Admiral Díaz Cid said that, for him personally, one of the greatest benefits of the conference was meeting other officials attending the event.
“When there’s a need to call someone in the future, I will actually know the person I’m talking to,” he said. “When you talk to someone you’ve never met, there’s not the same level of trust or familiarity.”
First Air Force commander, Maj. Gen. Hank Morrow, said he was extremely pleased that the conference offered a beneficial setting for 1st Air Force and other attending organizations to mingle and share information in a way that would enhance future mutual endeavors.
“This conference was intended to lay the foundation for future engagements,” General Morrow said. “Our aim, through open and frank discussions, was to positively impact regional air domain issues and to advance relationships with other organizations. We believe the conference was enormously successful in achieving our goals.”
Since its inception, 1st Air Force, in conjunction with U.S. Northern Command, has sought to establish partnerships with other North American nations and state Air National Guard organizations for the purposes of continental security and prosperity, the commander added.
“The Air Chiefs Conference was our most recent effort to those ends,” he said.
Among those attending the conference from across the U.S. were Brig. Gen. Michael Colangelo, assistant adjutant general-air and commander, Arizona National Guard; Dr. Albert Mitchum, Jr., political advisor to the Air Combat Command commander; and Tony Crowder, AMOC’s executive director.
Representing Canada was Capt. James McCluskey, who serves with Search and Rescue Systems for Canadian Forces.
As part of their conference experience, attendees also toured the 601st Air and Space Operations Center and the 43rd Fighter Squadron, a subordinate unit of Tyndall’s 325th Fighter Wing.