Latin American Cadets visit Thunderbolt Nation

Maj. Adam Vogel, 56th Operations Group F-35 instructor pilot, gives an F-35A Lightning II orientation brief at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 6, 2017. The orientation was given to cadets from the Latin American Cadet’s Initiatives program. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

Maj. Adam Vogel, 56th Operations Group F-35 instructor pilot, gives an F-35A Lightning II orientation brief at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 6, 2017. The orientation was given to cadets from the Latin American Cadet’s Initiatives program. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

Cadets from the Latin American Cadet’s Initiatives program take a moment to pose by an F-35A Lightning II at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 6, 2017. The top two cadets selected from 12 countries participated in the LACI program for three and a half weeks. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

Cadets from the Latin American Cadet’s Initiatives program take a moment to pose by an F-35A Lightning II at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 6, 2017. The top two cadets selected from 12 countries participated in the LACI program for three and a half weeks. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

Maj. Adam Vogel, 56th Operations Group F-35 instructor pilot, instructs a class on how to fly an F-35A Lightning II on a desktop simulator at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Nov. 6, 2017. The Latin American Cadet’s Initiatives program toured through the U.S. for approximately three and a half weeks. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

Maj. Adam Vogel, 56th Operations Group F-35 instructor pilot, instructs a class on how to fly an F-35A Lightning II on a desktop simulator at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Nov. 6, 2017. The Latin American Cadet’s Initiatives program toured through the U.S. for approximately three and a half weeks. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

Lt. Col. Donald Landgrebe, secretary of the Air Force international affairs country director, gives a brief on the F-16 Fighting Falcon at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 6, 2017. This year’s Latin American Cadet’s Initiatives program began Oct. 9, and ended Nov. 8. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

Lt. Col. Donald Landgrebe, secretary of the Air Force international affairs country director, gives a brief on the F-16 Fighting Falcon at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 6, 2017. This year’s Latin American Cadet’s Initiatives program began Oct. 9, and ended Nov. 8. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

Cadets from the Latin American Cadet’s Initiatives program tour the Air Traffic Control Tower at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 6, 2017. The Latin American cadets were brought to Luke to encourage leadership and to build a stronger relationship with each other. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

Cadets from the Latin American Cadet’s Initiatives program tour the Air Traffic Control Tower at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 6, 2017. The Latin American cadets were brought to Luke to encourage leadership and to build a stronger relationship with each other. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Cadets from 12 different Latin American nations arrived at Luke Nov. 6 for this year’s Latin American Cadet’s Initiatives (LACI) program.

“The LACI program was created and sponsored by the secretary of the Air Force and lasts for about three and a half weeks,” said Lt. Col. Donald Landgrebe, secretary of the Air Force international affairs country director. “For the last 11 years, each participating nation has sent their top two cadets to travel through the country and learn about American culture, and the U.S. Air Force and its capabilities.”

This year, the cadets experienced an additional week in the U.S. for the international cadet week event at the Air Force Academy before finally reaching Arizona, the last destination of the program.

“The LACI program is designed to engage cadets with an academic perspective of future challenges and opportunities,” said Maj. Oscar Palomino, secretary of the Air Force international affairs country director. “However, the last week is focused on developing relationships that will continue to strengthen throughout their careers.”

During the last week of LACI, the cadets experienced how Luke builds the future of airpower and improve upon their network of relationships.

“We began by giving the cadets an F-35A Lightning II orientation briefing at the Academic Training Center,” said Maj. Adam Vogel, 56th Operations Group F-35 instructor pilot. “After the briefing we were able to play around on the F-35 desktop simulators and tour different squadrons of the base. I think it went well; we received a lot of smiles and positive feedback.”

This is the second time Luke has participated in the LACI program.

“I think the program is fantastic and is an incredible opportunity for what we are trying to achieve,” Palomino said. “By starting our relationships early with these cadets, we are able to show them how alike we are, making our cooperation between our countries smoother in the future. When these cadets get older they will remember these moments, and I think it will be a motivational drive for them to progress and further themselves and their relationships.”