By Cheri Dragos-Pritchard
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
During fiscal year 2014 nearly 200 international students from 19 different countries received C-130 flying and maintenance training here through the 714th and 373rd Training Squadrons respectively.
Recently, George Gagnon, a senior executive service member and the director of International Training and Education for Air Education and Training Command, visited the 314th and 189th Airlift Wings to discuss the international training program and visit the C-130 Center of Excellence training facility.
“Our aircraft are not considered the primary weapon we have in our arsenal,” Gagnon said about why other countries want to come to the U.S. for training. “Our primary weapon system is our U.S. Air Force Airmen. We train professionals and other countries want their airmen to be like our Airmen. They want trained professionals.”
Col. Jeffrey Gast, 314th Airlift Wing vice commander, added, “The 314th Airlift Wing and its partners, the 189th and 19th Airlift Wings, provide the world’s premier training to air forces around the globe that operate C-130s.”
During the visit, Gagnon talked about what his office and personnel can do to help the international training program. He discussed the mission and structure of his office as well as Air Force Security Assistance Training.
“We develop, deliver and manage education and training solutions,” stated Gagnon. “We are the executive agent for all Air Force-sponsored international training.”
The director went on to say air forces all over the world ask for training here, and he does his best not to turn away a customer.
“We just have to find the right program and location, and Little Rock Air Force Base is the best solution in the international community for C-130J combat airlift training.”
Gagnon and his team toured the training facility and learned the difference between the J and H model C-130s while here. He also set plans for the Air Force Security Assistance Training team to make a return visit in October to gauge the capacity for increased international training in the future.