Every day is International Day of Friendship at 16th Air Force

  • Published
  • By By Matthew McGovern and Capt. Dorothy Sherwood
  • 16th Air Force (Air Forces Cyber)

International Day of Friendship is about building bridges between communities to inspire peace, a day celebrated on July 30, 2023.

16th Air Force continues to build bridges amongst our Allies and partners, and even provides them the opportunity to integrate directly into the organization’s directorates through the U.S. Air Force Military Personnel Exchange Program.

“I’ve known about the exchange program for a while, the one in Texas was a new one,” said British Royal Air Force Squadron Leader James “Jim” Scott, 16th Air Force future cyber operations planner.  “America was on the radar, but until this post was offered, I was unaware Texas was an opportunity. I’ve worked with U.S. forces in Kandahar, NATO and various other places around Europe, so I thought doing a tour in America would be both interesting and rewarding.”

The MPEP is a special duty assignment that selected Scott to move to Texas with his family and work alongside 16th Air Force personnel every day as a communications engineer. His assignment started in July 2020, shortly after 16th Air Force became the first Information Warfare Number Air Force.

“Organizationally, 16th Air Force units are set up quite well to deliver output, whereas we [RAF] are set up different to be slightly more flexible and agile,” said Scott.

Scott has contributed his invaluable 33 years of expertise in the RAF to various U.S. military exercises and training courses for the past three years. His collaborated best practices were not just with U.S. joint forces, but with other participating Allies, such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

“Building bridges to our international partners is key to understanding each other,” said Scott. “There is a whole different military language, even though we all speak English sometimes the meaning behind the words can be mistaken; keeping the lines of communication open enables you to understand your partners better.”

The U.K.-U.S. defense and intelligence cooperation are today the broadest, deepest and most advanced of any two countries. There are 3,000 British military personnel and their families based across the U.S., from California to Colorado, Nevada to Nebraska, and around 20,000 U.S. military personnel and their families based in the U.K. all working to further strengthen this crucial partnership.

“I’ve gotten better acquainted with the area of the south and certainly Texas, and while here have been invited for gatherings like Thanksgiving or go out on morale days,” said Scott. “I’ll keep in touch with them after I leave.”

The MPEP has positions all over the U.S. filled with military personnel not just from the United Kingdom, but also Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Thailand and Türkiye.

The U.S. military is stronger than ever by being a collaborative force with our Allies and partners.

“You need partnerships and friendships to promote peace,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Adam Steinmetz, 16th Air Force, International Affairs European Command foreign area officer. “We become more effective through these partnerships, and we can scale up operations to be even more effective.”

Steinmetz integrates foreign policy and interagency partnerships to advance 16th Air Force’s mission and operations, and has worked with Scott in the past.
“I met Jim Scott when we were discussing sharing partnership agreements,” said Steinmetz. “They like to call Foreign Area Officers warrior diplomats since much of the FAOs are embedded in U.S. embassies across the world, and they help form those partnerships that are truly needed in our day and age.”

Steinmetz was a navigator for 12 years flying in the E-3 Sentry, or AWACS, and RC-135V/W Rivet Joint before deciding to become a FAO to help advance U.S. relationships.

“As part of my FAO training, I had an opportunity to work at the U.S. Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic,” said Steinmetz. “I was able to help helicopter pilots and engineers who fly and train on the ‘Huey’ [UH-1 Iroquois helicopter] to help them pass their English Defense Language Proficiency Test at a higher score. With my Russian and Ukrainian language skill, I was able to help them build their scores up as part of that tour, which I thought was unique. I had the aviation background, but also the language background, so it was a good fit.”

While being assigned to 16th Air Force, Steinmetz has used his warrior diplomat talents to build lasting foundations through shared values to preserve security and stability with our international partnerships.

“I was able to work with the interagency in Latvia, promoting the International Affairs mission in the Baltics,” said Steinmetz. “It was the first time the International Affairs Office got to travel to Latvia.”

Through continuous engagement throughout the year, 16th Air Force has enduring partnerships and strengthened cooperations between the U.K., Latvia, Japan, Norway, Estonia, Poland and many others.