60th CONJEFAMER Air Chiefs discuss COVID-19, air operations, space domain

Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) senior leaders and advisors stand by for the virtual 60th Conference of the American Air Chiefs (CONJEFAMER) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Sept. 30. CONJEFAMER is usually held in June by a participating nation, but due to COVID-19, was postponed and held virtually. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Angela Ruiz

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. – Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. and 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander, Maj. Gen. Barry R. Cornish, virtually joined Air Chiefs from 19 nations across the Western Hemisphere for the 60th Conference of the American Air Chiefs, or CONJEFAMER, as known by its Spanish acronym, Sept 30.

The System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces, known as SICOFAA for its Spanish acronym, virtually hosted this CONJEFAMER, which usually is held in June by a participating nation but due to COVID-19, was postponed. The conference provides the air chiefs an opportunity to meet and collectively collaborate on SICOFAA agenda, combined training exercises, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in the region.

“Humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief efforts, particularly during COVID-19, have never been more vital around the globe. The Conference of American Air Chiefs is an event that builds trust and support between the U.S. and our Latin American partners. The relationships built amongst all the air chiefs is invaluable, and gives us the opportunity for our nations to collaborate when responding to humanitarian crises and natural disasters in the Western Hemisphere,” Brown said.

There have been more than 200-plus days of COVID-19 air operations response in the Western Hemisphere since the pandemic reached the Americas; thrusting the Air Forces into logistic air transportations of humanitarian aid, food delivery, support to health and state agencies, medical evaluations, and support to each nation’s security. The air chiefs shared their experiences, lessons learned and best practices with COVID-19.

The air chiefs concluded the conference with a discussion of building international partnerships in the space domain and incorporating space capabilities in future combined humanitarian assistance and disaster-response operations for the benefit of the region. There are seven nations in Latin America with active space programs and an additional three with space academics.  

“I was honored to represent the U.S. Space Force at the Conference of American Air Chiefs, the first since our establishment last December,” said U.S. Space Force Lt. Gen. William Liquori, deputy chief of space operations, strategy, plans, programs, requirements and analysis. “Robust partnerships with like-minded space-faring nations, like those in attendance today, are essential to the long-term security and sustainability of the space domain.”

The first CONJEFAMER, in 1961, had 14 countries in attendance. They laid the foundation for the SICOFAA, a voluntary non-political organization fostering an environment of cooperation, unity and interoperability among the Western Hemisphere Air Forces. SICOFAA is now made up of 21 member nations to include Argentina: Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela; with four observer nations: Belize, Costa Rica, Haiti and Trinidad Tobago.

“Although this year’s conference is virtual, it is only possible thanks to the bonds formed from previous successful conferences,” Brown said.

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