By Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Chris Fahey, Naval Air Forces Public Affairs
NAS NORTH ISLAND, San Diego (NNS) -- More than 90 multi-national senior officers and civilian leaders attending the Inter-American Defense College (IADC) in Washington D.C. visited three Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI) helicopter squadrons April 23.
The day trip allowed guests to gain a better understanding of the Navy's anti-submarine/undersea warfare mission, preview the Navy's newest multi-mission combat helicopter, the MH-60R, and meet the nation's most valuable war fighting assets – the Sailors who train and fight in the U.S. Navy.
Commanding officers from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 41, Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 43 and HSL 49 welcomed the group and invited them to experience life at an operational helicopter squadron.
"It's an honor, and very interesting, to see what the Navy does day in and day out," said Mariela Melero, a Cuban-American IADC student and Deputy Director of Communications for Department of Homeland Security.
"It's overwhelming, at some points, to realize America has such amazing tools and technologies. Clearly; however, our greatest capability and strength are the men and women who serve. They are great examples of the U.S. military."
Located on Fort Lesley J. McNair Air Force Base, the IADC is an international educational institution and provides a professionally oriented, multi-disciplinary, graduate-level course of study to senior military and government officials from the Americas. During each 11-month course, students visit different countries and military installations to expand their educational horizons and improve friendships with democratic partners throughout the Western Hemisphere.
"You can't do it all in the classroom," said IADC Chief of External Programs Capt. David Lemek. "We have to get [students] out to the Sailors to see the capacity of our resources, our operational capabilities and build better friendships with our hemispheric partners."
Navy commanders work with foreign navies to perform drug interdiction operations and other global maritime functions that provide security and stability to regional theaters. IADC's friendship-building visit to the NASNI squadrons bolsters positive relations and understanding between the U.S. and its allies.
Sharing information and understanding of military capabilities fosters a positive balance and helps win and prevent future global conflicts. These avenues of education further demonstrates the Navy's global Maritime Strategy to limit regional conflicts, deter major-power war and win the Nation's wars without neglecting other global forces.
"Bottom line," said HSM-41 commanding officer Cdr. Thomas Braden, "the better we know each other and understand where we each come from, the better we can train and fight as a team."