By Airman Kevin Sommer Giron
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
As the cornerstone of C-130 combat airlift, the 314th Airlift Wing touches all corners of the globe, training Airmen and international service members to become premier combat airlifters.
Nations from around the world send their C-130J and H model aircrews to the C-130 Center of Excellence, an international C-130 training school, where students learn career-specific fundamentals of combat airlift.
“We train international students in all aircrew positions including pilots, loadmasters and of course aircraft maintainers,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Larry Holland, 714th Training Squadron NCO in charge of the International Military Student Office.
Since the wing’s transition to the J model, the 314th AW works hand-in-hand with the 189th Airlift Wing to train the international C-130H students. Annually, they educate and train 100 to 200 international students from more than 47 allied nations.
“(Length of training) varies year-to-year depending on the requirement,” Holland said. “While our first priority is training our Airmen, with more countries buying the C-130J, the airframe is growing and we keep stepping forward.”
International students receive a curriculum tailored to their career field’s needs. Classes swap from one week in length for a refresher course, to eight months for initial training.
“For the most part, the students train in our aircrafts and on the flight simulator. Just like our U.S. students — we are able to send them out of here fully trained,” said Holland.
For some students, visiting a foreign country can be an exciting yet intimidating experience. That is why the IMSO works to establish lasting relationships and immerses students in American culture on a personal level.
“The IMSO team works to make sure students have all the support they need so when they come here, they can focus on getting the training their countries need and that we can provide,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Jonathon Ferricher, 714th TRS officer in charge of the IMSO.
The students have an opportunity to participate in the Field Studies Program managed by the IMSO team. The program allows for voluntary visits to sites such as Hot Springs, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee.
“The impact we have on them is further reaching then the tactical airlift expertise that we train them on,” Ferricher said. “We also teach them about American culture and what our society is like. I think that’s valuable because it helps them to understand America, and it leaves a lasting impression as they go back to their countries.
“Where else could you take 15 to 20 students from 10 to 12 different countries out for a weekend and show them good old fashion American culture?” Ferricher said.
“So far, I’ve learned about the multicultural nature of American society,” said a student from the Nigerian air force. “America is filled with different people of different races with an admirable love for one country. It teaches me that brotherhood and unity is not born solely from similarities in race or language, but also from the idea of oneness as is embodied by the American spirit.”
The wing trains more than 1,300 students, annually, including approximately 200 international students, making it the largest international flight training program.
“As an integrated coalition force doing a common mission, together we can get so much more accomplished than trying to do things on our own,” Ferricher said. “That is the main objective here: building partnerships.”