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First ever Inter-European Air Forces Academy course begins in Bulgaria

Tech. Sgt. Sandra Wellman, a Kisling NCOA instructor, talks about the critical role NCOs play in USAF operations with international students during the first ever IEAFA combined international officer and NCO PME course held in Sofia, Bulgaria, Nov. 2-13, 2015.  Twenty-three students from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, and Hungary participated in this inagural course (U.S. Air Force photo/SMSgt Travis Robbins/Released)

Tech. Sgt. Sandra Wellman, a Kisling NCOA instructor, talks about the critical role NCOs play in USAF operations with international students during the first ever IEAFA combined international officer and NCO PME course held in Sofia, Bulgaria, Nov. 2-13, 2015. Twenty-three students from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, and Hungary participated in this inaugural course. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Travis Robbins/Released)

Major General Todor Dotchev, Commander Bulgarian Rakovski Defense Staff College, addresses students from the first ever IEAFA combined international officer and NCO PME course graduation held in Sofia, Bulgaria, Nov. 13, 2015.  Twenty-three students from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, and Hungary participated in this inagural course. (U.S. Air Force photo/SMSgt Travis Robbins/Released)

Major General Todor Dotchev, Commander Bulgarian Rakovski Defense Staff College, addresses students from the first ever IEAFA combined international officer and NCO PME course graduation held in Sofia, Bulgaria, Nov. 13, 2015. Twenty-three students from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, and Hungary participated in this inaugural course. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Travis Robbins/Released)

Maj. Gen. Todor Dotchev, Commander Bulgarian Rakovski Defense Staff College, addresses students from the first ever IEAFA combined international officer and NCO PME course graduation held in Sofia, Bulgaria, Nov.13, 2015.  Bulgaria partnered with the U.S. to co-host the inaugural course which included twenty-three students from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, and Hungary participated in this inagural course. (U.S. Air Force photo/SMSgt Travis Robbins/Released)

Maj. Gen. Todor Dotchev, Commander Bulgarian Rakovski Defense Staff College, addresses students from the first ever IEAFA combined international officer and NCO PME course graduation held in Sofia, Bulgaria, Nov.13, 2015. Bulgaria partnered with the U.S. to co-host the inaugural course which included twenty-three students from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, and Hungary participated in this inaugural course. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Travis Robbins/Released)

Colonel Jill Long, Deputy Director Plans and Program Analyses, congratulates Sgt. 1st Class Pavel Zelenka from the Czech Republic Air Force on his completion of the first IEAFA combined international officer and NCO PME course during graduation in Sofia, Bulgaria, Nov. 13, 2015.  Twenty-three students from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, and Hungary participated in this inagural course. (U.S. Air Force photo/SMSgt Travis Robbins/Released)

Colonel Jill Long, Deputy Director Plans and Program Analyses, congratulates Sgt. 1st Class Pavel Zelenka from the Czech Republic Air Force on his completion of the first IEAFA combined international officer and NCO PME course during graduation in Sofia, Bulgaria, Nov. 13, 2015. Twenty-three students from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, and Hungary participated in this inaugural course. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Travis Robbins/Released)

Lt. Col. Christopher Erickson, IEAFA Commandant, awards a certificate of completion to Captain Zhasmina Hristova, Bulgarian Air Force, during graduation of the first ever IEAFA combined international officer and NCO PME course graduation in Sofia, Bulgaria, Nov. 13, 2015. Twenty-three students from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, and Hungary participated in this inagural course. (U.S. Air Force photo/SMSgt Travis Robbins/Released)

Lt. Col. Christopher Erickson, IEAFA Commandant, awards a certificate of completion to Captain Zhasmina Hristova, Bulgarian Air Force, during graduation of the first ever IEAFA combined international officer and NCO PME course graduation in Sofia, Bulgaria, Nov. 13, 2015. Twenty-three students from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, and Hungary participated in this inaugural course. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Travis Robbins/Released)

Students and instructors pose for a photo after graduation from the first ever IEAFA combined international officer and NCO PME course in Sofia, Bulgaria, Nov. 13, 2015.  Twenty-three students from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, and Hungary participated in the inaugural course. (U.S. Air Force photo/SMSgt Travis Robbins/Released)

Students and instructors pose for a photo after graduation from the first ever IEAFA combined international officer and NCO PME course in Sofia, Bulgaria, Nov. 13, 2015. Twenty-three students from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, and Hungary participated in the inaugural course. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Travis Robbins/Released)

SOFIA, Bulgaria -- U.S. Air Forces in Europe started its first ever Inter-European Air Forces Academy course Nov. 2, 2015. 

IEAFA's mission is to provide education and training to Air Force personnel from NATO and Partnership for Peace nations.

"IEAFA supports improved NATO coalition aviation operations through increased professional development of both combat and support forces," said Lt. Col. Chris Erickson, IEAFA Commandant. "The increased interaction at the junior officer and senior NCO level will dramatically increase and strengthen personal bonds of NATO airmen over time and this will promote improved relations at all levels of Allied Air Forces."

Commander of the Bulgarian Air Force, Maj. Gen. Rumen Radev, welcomed the first class of 23 students from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia and Hungary. 

Senior leaders involved in the IEAFA program believe that, increasing our combined training through IEAFA will build future capabilities by developing the most important asset - people. 

"By training officers and non-commissioned officers from different nations in parallel, the new IEAFA program seeks to build trust between the ranks and among different nationalities," said Defense Attaché, Colonel James Crowhurst. He thanked the Inter-European Air Forces Academy leadership for hosting the course and their emphasis on developing officers and NCOs in their leadership roles.


Erickson also stressed the importance of professional military education for the development of both officer and non-commissioned officers and how this five NATO nation training event provides a valuable opportunity for the US instructors to learn from Allied air force personnel.


IEAFA will offer the full Squadron Officer School and NCOA courses starting in 2016 at its permanent classrooms near Ramstein AB in Germany.