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International military leaders inducted into AU Honor Roll

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman William J. Blankenship
  • 42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Newly enshrined into the Air University International Honor Roll, 14 alumni and one representative gathered at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, for the formal induction ceremony Dec. 3 to celebrate their successes since graduating from the university.

This year's induction to the honor roll included 24 international officers, the largest class in the program's history.  Each of the inductees was honored for acceding to highest positions in their countries' respective service or military. 

"This represents the fact that other countries in this world send us their very best and brightest," said Lt. Gen. Steven L. Kwast, commander of Air University. "They truly choose the ones that show the greatest potential for future leadership, and they send them here because they know they will have a world-class education."

The university annually welcomes about 250 foreign military leaders to step away from their commands at home to study at Maxwell, all while building global partnerships with their American and international colleagues.

During their time at AU as students, the inductees were immersed in the American joint-service learning environment, preparing them to return to their home countries' military departments not only as better leaders, but with multicultural relationships that can help advance the global desire for peace.

"This is one of the essential foundations of national security," said Kwast. "When you get to know somebody as a young officer, or enlisted, you nurture that relationship over time. In the crises that happen in this world, you find that you are thrown together-- such as Iraq or Afghanistan or Desert Shield or Storm. These friendships that have been bonded over years began here."

At the induction ceremony, the officers reflected on their experiences at AU and how the education they received helped propel them to senior leader positions within their militaries.

"It's really an incredible honor," said the commander of the Estonian Air Force, Col. Jaak Tarien, a graduate of Air Command and Staff College and the U.S. Air Force Academy. "I am very thankful for the United States Air Force and the United States of America for providing me all of the education I have received. Air Command and Staff College has really helped me with all of the challenges I have faced in my position."

While on Maxwell, inductees toured familiar locations, which helped them recall the friendships built here.

"From a year here at ACSC, I took back so many lessons that I've leveraged, but none so much as those that are related to the friendships that we've made here," said Gen. Thomas J. Lawson, chief of the Defense Staff, Canadian Armed Forces. "There is a fantastic fabric that is developed here for international officers."

Approximately 12,000 international officers have graduated from AU schools since 1954. In 1988, Edward C. Aldridge, Jr., then secretary of the Air Force, first dedicated the AU International Honor Roll. Approximately 3.5 percent of graduates reach the senior leadership positions necessary for the coveted milestone.

"This celebration of friendship and of success is something unique," said Kwast. "The dignity and honor of this profession of arms is degraded if we do not stop and celebrate these moments of friendship. I hope that these countries that are bound together in friendship for the future continue to send their very best and we promise and dedicate ourselves to educating thinkers that think critically, act morally, that innovate rapidly and think strategically. This is what will arm our next generation to solve the dilemmas of our day."

The 2014 Air University International Honor Roll inductees are:

Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Frederik Beltoja, Commander, Albanian Air Force

Maj. Gen. Rumen Radev, Commander, Bulgarian Air Force

Gen. Thomas J. Lawson, Chief of the Defense Staff, Canadian Armed Forces

Gen. Guillermo Leon-Leon, Commander, Colombian Air Force

Brig. Gen. Jean-Jacques Rene Ouegnin, Commander, Cote d'Ivoire Air Force

Brig. Gen. Libor Stefanik, Commander, Czech Air Force

Maj. Gen. Ismael A. Alvarado, Vice Minister, Dominican Republic Armed Forces

Col. Jaak Tarien, Commander, Estonian Air Force

Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, Commander, Israeli Air Force

Gen. Mirco Zuliani, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, Italy

Gen. Harukazu Saitoh, Chief of Staff, Japan Air Self-Defense Force

Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Khamis S. F. Al Marzouq, Commander, Kuwait Air Force

Lt. Gen. Bart H. Hoitink, Inspector General of Dutch Armed Forces

Senior Col. Hassane Mossi, Chief of Staff, Niger Air Force

Maj. Gen. Laurian Anastasof, Chief of the Romanian Air Force Staff

Lt. Gen. Fayyadh H. R. Al-Ruwaili, Deputy Chief of Staff, Saudi Armed Forces

Brig. Gen. (retired) Stefan Czmur, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of Norway and the Republic of Iceland

Maj. Gen. Odirile Mashinyana, Commander, Botswana Air Arm

Maj. Gen. Bohuslave Dvorak, Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Czech Republic

Lt. Gen. Evangelos Tournas, Chief of Staff, Hellenic Air Force

Maj. Gen. Staff Pilot, Ibrahim M. Naser Al-Alawi, Commander, UAE Air Force and Air Defense

Maj. Gen. Samuel B. Turyagyenda, Commander, Uganda Air Force

Maj. Gen. Muliokela M.G., Zambia Chief of Air Staff and Deputy Air Commander

Air Vice Marshal Kevin R. Short, Vice Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force