ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England --
Noncommissioned officers from both the Royal and U.S. Air Forces recently participated in a leadership exchange program Nov. 10, 2022, at RAF Honington, England.
This event was the second iteration of a new program being spearheaded by both U.S. and Royal Air Force personnel, with the goal of sharing knowledge and experiences in hopes of strengthening bonds between the partner nations.
“We all have unique ways in how we operate,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Stefan Watkins-Krukowski, exchange program coordinator. “Learning how we can cope with our situations as frontline supervisors, we can glean something from that and take that back to our workcenters.”
Watkins-Krukowski shared that part of the motivation behind getting this program off the ground was to support the National Defense Strategy, which emphasizes the need to build and strengthen NATO partnerships.
“One of the tenants the President has put out to us is to build strong ties with our NATO Allies,” he said. “Taking programs like this, on the lowest level, and bringing them up to the operational level, will allow us to have way better insight into how each other works and operate … integrating that to a certain level, should the need arise, would allow us to accomplish the mission far more superior than we do now.”
During the visit, participants were given a tour of the base’s heritage center, training facilities and attended a Veterans Day memorial service hosted by RAF personnel in honor of fallen U.S. Air Force members.
“We work so closely together all across the world and throughout history, especially in the last 100 years,” said RAF Cpl. Ashley Lewis, RAF exchange program coordinator. “The fact that when I got to RAF Honington in 2019, there was no collaboration whatsoever between us… then this [event] came across my desk and I thought it was the perfect opportunity for myself to make friends and for our two forces to work together closely.”
To close out the day, the NCOs participated in cross-talks, which allowed them a chance to share stories, knowledge and leadership advice with each other.
“The way I see junior ranks, within the RAF especially, is somewhere within there are future leaders,” Lewis said. “I think collaborating at an early stage in their career and building professional and personal relationships with people from other nations, especially the U.S. Air Force, there’s no doubt in my mind the benefit would be huge.”
The next iteration for a leadership collaboration is projected for Spring of 2023, with hopes of extending invitations to additional neighboring installations.