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AETC director recognized for efforts in international training

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Beth Anschutz
  • Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs
The Director of International Training and Education for the Air Education and Training Command was recently recognized for exceptional leadership and his commitment to promoting career development within his team.

George Gagnon was awarded the 2014 Roger W. Jones Award for Executive Leadership for his efforts as leader of both his directorate and the Air Force Security Assistance Training Squadron.

As the executive agent for all Air Force sponsored international training, Gagnon leads a very specialized and professional work force. His team is responsible for the operational and financial management of an enterprise that represents more than $9 billion in training value.

AETC/IA and AFSAT operations personnel manage contracts between governments, develop and implement training programs and process international students through training in the United States. The financial management personnel on his team manage direct purchases of training, while adhering to sometimes complex rules and regulations governing international commerce.

Although the team doesn't administer any training themselves, without their efforts, international training wouldn't get done.

"Think of us as a business that works between the United States and other countries to help them determine training requirements, what training they can afford and how that training needs to be done," Gagnon said.

"Our mission in AETC is to train the world's best Airmen in the world's best training environment. If we in turn bring our international partners into this training world, then we have expanded our team. We're training future partners, future allies, future teammates and leaders."

Gagnon's leadership and diplomatic skills were lauded after his team successfully built enduring and effective partnerships through support of a Royal Saudi Air Force F-15SA Fleet Modernization Program. The $30 billion program will transform the RSAF from a contractor-based aircraft maintenance and training system to an indigenous and sustainable enlisted and officer force by 2019.

John Rush, AFSAT Director of Operations, said there has never been an international training requirement of this size and scope. AFSAT professionals designed and crafted the master training plan for more than 5,500 maintenance technicians, more than 200 pilots and Weapon System Officers, and the transition of the RSAF cadre to the new digital F-15SA variant with expanded capability and weapons.

"Global partnerships like this are important to our continued security, now more than ever," Rush said.

"One of our responsibilities is to use purposeful and mutually beneficial involvement with other nations to promote peace, security and opportunity. Security Assistance Training is an effective way to do that," Rush said. "We seek to be the partner of choice to provide Air Force training to other nations."

Rush met Gagnon in Officer Training School in 1981. Their paths continued to cross throughout their respective careers and the two have been working closely since 2008. He said he is not surprised Gagnon received an award intended to recognize executives devoted to public service and leadership.

"Mr. Gagnon's directorate is responsible for the management, funding, development and execution of training for over 10,000 international students annually, both in the U. S. and overseas. Over 140 countries look to the U. S. Air Force for training. In the context of world politics and international security this is enormously important." Rush said. "There is no one more dedicated or devoted to service of the U.S., the Department of Defense, the Air Force and AETC than Mr. Gagnon."

Gagnon said the award he received is because of the efforts of his team and he is very lucky to be a part of such an important mission.

"When you talk to Airmen around the world, they look at the U.S. as a model. We are the standard. When we go out and fight in the future, we are not going to be alone. We will be fighting beside the allies and partners that we have created, the same people we have trained today," Gagnon said. "It's very rewarding to be a part of international relationship building at the very lowest level."