HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii -- Senior enlisted air force leaders from Australia, Canada, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom and others collaborated recently with U.S. Pacific Air Forces Command Chief Master Sgt. David R. Wolfe, to lay the foundation for the Inter-Pacific Air Forces Academy (IPAFA).
“The idea for this academy was born from the Pacific Air Chief’s senior enlisted leader session in September of 2021,” explained Wolfe. “It’s a collaborative idea with unanimous support from not only our Pacific partners, but other like-minded nations.”
The IPAFA will be a U.S. Air Force-led international institution that delivers professional military education to Ally and partner air forces throughout the Indo-Pacific. The academy’s focus is to develop effective enlisted command leadership teams with a strong partnership network to draw from.
Warrant Officer of the Royal Air Force Jake Alpert worked with Wolfe to get IPAFA’s development in motion. Alpert believes relations between the United Kingdom and nations throughout the Indo-Pacific will continue to grow through delivering an enlisted non-commissioned officer school in the Pacific, as well as continued partnerships during regional exercises.
“We all have a common interest in global security and the U.K. specifically honors our historic partnerships,” explained Alpert. “We need to make sure we’re resilient and ready to support against any aggression.”
The Indo-Pacific breakout session was part of Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne Bass’s Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit. During the IPAFA discussion, PACAF Allies, partners, and other stakeholders worked to define the academy’s purpose, goals, and how they would define the initial operating capability of the school.
“What does a senior enlisted leader in the Pacific look like?” Wolfe asked the group. “What are the attributes and capabilities our senior enlisted corps should have as a common ground across the Pacific?”
Some of the team’s responses included molding enlisted Airmen who are innovators, critical thinkers, healthy skeptics and empowered leaders who implement effective systems to modernize their missions.
The PACAF enlisted engagements manager, Senior Master Sgt. Sedrick Evans, is leading the academy’s creation.
“This is an opportunity for our Pacific enlisted leaders to build a global network of esteemed senior leaders better positioned to advise their commanders,” said Evans. “The timing is right and we need to take action with our international partners.”
Existing courses such as Airman Leadership School and Senior Non-commissioned Officer Academy have international student enrollment on a space-available basis. The IPAFA will be additive in nature to those courses, rather than a replacement.
The IPAFA will be similar to the existing Inter-European Air Forces Academy and Inter-American Air Forces Academy, which enroll international students from Allied and partner nations within their respective regions. Those schools feature multiple courses that target different ranks and technical specialties.
While creating IPAFA, Wolfe and his collaborative team are focusing on what the Indo-Pacific air forces need for their enlisted corps, drawing from 10 months of analysis and assessments on what works best and needs improvement at the existing academies.
“If we have a heatmap for what’s available at IPAFA, then nations can send their enlisted to whatever course they need regardless of rank,” said Wolfe. “It’s less about rank and more about roles, responsibilities, and competence the enlisted force brings to each military organization.”
The diverse Indo-Pacific nations’ air forces currently have varying responsibilities for their enlisted personnel. The IPAFA will be a comprehensive way to standardize the role of non-commissioned officers and senior enlisted in the region, supporting integrated deterrence and a free and open Indo-Pacific.