Salon-de-Provence Air Base, France, sent eight cadets to Ramstein Nov. 14 to 20 with hopes of introducing them to the way the U.S. military operates on a day-to-day basis.
The visit marked the first time cadets from the French Air Force Academy attended an immersion tour of an American military installation.
“We wanted to target the young cadets and bring them here to experience how we operate daily,” said 2nd Lt. Ashley Swansiger, 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron section commander.
The immersion tour is a part of an academy exchange program that allows cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy and the French Air Force Academy to experience one another’s cultures and ways of operating, said 1st Lt. Jordan Tremblay, 76th Airlift Squadron chief of safety.
“We bring the cadets here because we are the largest European hub, therefore we can introduce them to more U.S. Air Force functions and help them get a better picture of how we do things,” Lieutenant Tremblay said. “The French air force reciprocates an exchange program with our U.S. Air Force cadets that are
currently stationed in France.”
Although the tour is only a week long, it will show the French cadets many different aspects of American routines both on and off duty.
“This base is bigger than any base in France and is quite impressive for all of us,” said Albam De La Bourgonnaye, a French Air Force Academy first year cadet. “It is cool because we can see different units and how Americans work since one day we will have to work together.”
Though understanding the way the U.S. Air Force operates is the primary objective, the tour allows the NATO allies to learn about American culture.
“This is the first time that the cadets have been on a U.S. military installation and will allow them to see some of the cultural differences that they may not have had a chance to encounter before,” Lieutenant Swansiger said.
Cadet De La Bourgonnaye said there are many differences in the two ways of life, including the differences between malls and food shops and even the size of vehicles, but building the partnerships now will help create smooth operations in the future.
“Now we are students, but in several years we may have to do missions with Americans and it is helpful to know how they live and work,” cadet De La Bourgonnaye said. “And for the relationships between our countries, the visit is really important.”
The interaction is important for not only the French cadets, but for the Airmen as well.
“It’s important to keep existing relationships with current allies to help deepen our bond between nations,” Lieutenant Tremblay said.
Though the cadets visited multiple units around Ramstein, one of their most dynamite stops was to the 886th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight.
“It has been very interesting so far,” Cadet De La Bourgonnaye said. “At EOD, we were able to see a robot blow up an IED. It was interesting to see how it works and the technology involved in these kinds of operations.”
Even though the cadets are in the early years of their military career, observing the pride and technicality subject matter experts put into their work helps to build partner-ships.
“The cadets will be able to get a firsthand look at the most powerful military in the world while having time to speak with people from different career fields and ask questions,” Lieutenant Swansiger said. “This will allow them to bring back ideas and share with their peers since they will be the future leaders.”
Lieutenant Swansiger said she is proud to be in the military and serve in the Air Force and would like to bring back the enthusiasm Airmen have for their job.
“The people we talked to here love their jobs and wanted to show us they love what they do,” cadet De La Bourgonnaye said. “They were truly interested in us being here and wanted to share what they know with us.”