By Geraldine Cook, Diálogo August 27, 2018 Protecting the Dominican airspace is among the many roles of the Dominican Air Force. For Major General Luis Napoleón Payán Díaz, commander of the Dominican Air Force (FARD, in Spanish), reducing illegal drug trafficking in the Caribbean corridor, while strengthening combined and interagency exercises, are essential functions. Maj. Gen. Díaz participated in the LVIII Conference of Chiefs of the American Air Forces (CONJEFAMER, in Spanish) in Panama City, Panama, June 19-21, 2018. The commander spoke with Diálogo about FARD’s progress in the fight against narcotrafficking, interagency work, and humanitarian aid missions, among other topics. Diálogo: What’s the importance of FARD’s participation in the LVIII CONJEFAMER? Major General Luis Napoleón Payán Díaz, commander of the Dominican Air Force: FARD took part in CONJEFAMER for the first time in 1962, a year after its inception. Since then, our Chiefs of Staff and commanders at the institution always participate in the conference. CONJEFAMER is the right scenario, with the camaraderie, commitment, and professionalism that characterize our air institutions, in which commanders of the Americas can interact and foster bonds of cooperation between air forces, beyond the friendship and brotherhood that exist between our people. Diálogo: Why is it important for FARD to be part of SICOFAA? What are the benefits? Maj. Gen. Díaz: It’s important for FARD to belong to the System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces (SICOFAA) because it allows us to be opened to globalization. SICOFAA is a strategic tool for the nation to project our foreign policies and expand our operational capabilities. One of SICOFAA’s benefits is that it enables us to exchange experiences, knowledge, and interoperate among air forces of the Americas in a combined, standardized way, such as the emergency response for humanitarian aid in case of natural disasters. Other SICOFAA benefits are the virtual and real Cooperation exercises and different committees. Diálogo: What’s the importance of SICOFAA for the region? Maj. Gen. Díaz: SICOFAA is a powerful, strategic tool for each member nation that enables us to respond with humanitarian assistance to natural disasters. This shows the diplomatic reach of the air force, beyond its essence as a military organization for the defense of the nation. Diálogo: What contributed to the decrease in drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Dominican airspace? Maj. Gen. Díaz: This is due to the government’s acquisition of the A29-B Super Tucano weapon system. Another element that contributed to this decrease is the 2010 Standing Operational Procedure (POV, in Spanish) agreement between FARD and the Colombian Air Force (FAC, in Spanish), which establishes the operational procedures to exchange information between both countries’ air spaces. Diálogo: What’s the importance of the combined exercise Caribe VII between FARD and FAC? Maj. Gen. Díaz: The importance of the Caribe exercise is the focus on training and standardizing the work of binational crews (FAC-FARD) to conduct operations to interdict, identify, and report irregular trafficking. The exercise also allows us to verify the capabilities that were developed jointly to stabilize airspace control. These exercises are the ideal scenario to continue standardizing doctrine and updating air interdiction tactics. Diálogo: What type of interagency efforts does FARD undertake to counter maritime drug trafficking? Maj. Gen. Díaz: FARD continuously coordinates with the Dominican Navy’s Intelligence Bureau, and constantly supports the National Narcotics Directorate, the government responsible for fighting drug trafficking. The Ministry of Defense coordinates the support for antinarcotics operations. In this fight to counter maritime drug trafficking, the information we receive from Colombia and the United States, among other countries, is very valuable. Diálogo: One of the main roles of FARD’s Search and Rescue Squadron (SAR) is humanitarian aid and natural disaster relief. How does the squadron prepare for its mission? Maj. Gen. Díaz: SAR is committed to follow the high command’s guidelines to safeguard the national sovereignty. In this sense, as an emergency response agency—with the use of its air resources such as helicopters—it efficiently supports humanitarian response operations in the event of natural disasters. SAR organizes training to keep its airmen flight efficient. Through the U.S. Embassy, combined training is arranged with the rest of the Dominican Armed Forces. Exercises are also carried out to guarantee better performance when conducting this kind of mission. In addition, FARD’s Air Operations Office plans practice flights and simulations between SAR, the Emergency Operations Center, and other government organizations to standardize procedures and unify criteria that would strengthen and improve the execution of these missions, which would augment operational capabilities to confront the continuous threat of climate change in our country and the region. Diálogo: What kind of security cooperation does FARD conduct with the United States? Maj. Gen. Díaz: The United States is the main strategic partner of the Dominican Republic concerning security and the fight against transnational crime. In this regard, means and resources are allocated for that purpose. The United States is also FARD’s main provider for courses, training, and equipment.