by Capt. Bryan Bouchard
12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs
7/1/2015 - MEXICO CITY -- United-Allied.
This is the motto of the System of Cooperation Among the American Air
Forces, or SICOFAA. The organization is a collection of more than 20 air
force leaders from across the Western Hemisphere. They met June 22-26
in Mexico City for a summit known as the Conference of American Air
Chiefs to confer new agreements, discuss the direction of the
organization, agree to future exercises, and continue to build upon a
50-plus year history of cooperation and good will.
"In 1961, former Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Thomas D. White,
had great foresight in bringing together the air chiefs of the Western
Hemisphere to discuss issues of mutual concern," said U.S. Air Force
Col. Alberto Moreno-Bonet, SICOFAA Secretary General, who organizes the
group's efforts from its office at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
"Now, 55 years later, 20 nations, along with several observing nations,
openly share tactics, techniques, and procedures in the realm of
humanitarian assistance and disaster relief."
Throughout the year, representatives from each nation meet at various
locations in the hemisphere to map out interoperability agreements,
update doctrine and propose future plans for the air chiefs to discuss
at CONJEFAMER, which is the Spanish acronym for the annual conference.
Since 2010, Moreno said that SICOFAA has been almost singularly-focused
on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, or HA/DR. The Haiti
earthquake that year led to this development and has congealed the
organization's efforts and resolve.
"We don't do anything in this world alone," said U.S. Air Force Chief of
Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. "Coalitions that form to support
everything from humanitarian relief to contingency operations require
organizations, especially military organizations, that know how to
integrate and work together under tough conditions. That is much easier
if those organizations and the people in them have learned to trust
each other before crises begin. SICOFAA helps us develop that trust."
This year, SICOFAA leaders signed a memorandum of understanding
improving how member nations will organize in the event one of the
nations experiences a humanitarian or disaster relief crisis. Previous
agreements stated that each country's air force will help where it can
to assist any other SICOFAA member nation in times of need.
Additionally, the nations' air force leaders also updated part of its
charter, streamlining how decisions are voted on, and ultimately
ratified into the fabric of the organization.
"The greatest thing about SICOFAA is that it's an opportunity for
countries who are neighbors, who are partners, to become better
friends," Welsh said. "We also develop even more trust in our collective
future, which allows us to do bigger and better things to benefit the
citizens of our countries."
In 2010, SICOFAA started exercising together in an HA/DR scenario known
as COOPERACION, with the first iteration taking place in Chile. Last
year, Peru hosted COOPERACION III, with Argentina hosting the fourth
iteration next year. Majority of SICOFAA nations send participants and
aircraft to practice working together to prepare for what most countries
see as an inevitable HA/DR challenge in the future.
"I expect this system of cooperation to become stronger and that it
comes together as an entity that can respond to any contingency," said
the Commander of the Mexican Air Force Gen. Carlos Antonio Rodriguez
Munguia . "Its capabilities will become more efficient in its responses,
especially to natural disasters but also to risks faced by participant
Each year, SICOFAA holds this annual conference in a different nation.
Last year, leaders met in Medellin, Colombia, and Colorado Springs,
Colo., will host next year's event. In addition to the countries
represented by the aforementioned air chiefs, this year's attendees
included Air Chiefs from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Bolivia,
Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Jamaica, U.S., Canada, Mexico,
Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras,
Paraguay and the Dominican Republic.