News happening around Little Rock Air Force Base

News Search

News

Experiencing cultural differences through military exchange program

Four men pose for a photo.

(From Left) Italian Air Force Brig. Gen. Michele Oballa, Italian Air Force Embassy of Italy defense attaché, stands with Italian Air Force Capt. Giuseppe Musumeci, 41st Airlift Squadron pilot, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Bret Echard, 41st Airlift Squadron commander, and Lt. Col. Frederic Oberson, 19th Operations Group deputy commander, before his tour of the 41st AS on Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Feb., 2019. Oballa was visiting to see how Musumeci was doing in the military personnel exchange program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell)

Four men stand in a circle, while one talks.

Italian Air Force Capt. Giuseppe Musumeci, 41st Airlift Squadron pilot, speaks with Italian Air Force Brig. Gen. Michele Oballa, Italian Air Force Embassy of Italy defense attaché, during his tour of Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Feb., 2019. Musumeci explained what he had learned in his time in the military personnel exchange program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell)

Four men stand in a circle.

Italian Air Force Brig. Gen. Michele Oballa, Italian Air Force Embassy of Italy defense attaché, stands with Italian Air Force Capt. Giuseppe Musumeci, 41st Airlift Squadron pilot, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Bret Echard, 41st Airlift Squadron commander, and Lt. Col. Frederic Oberson, 19th Operations Group deputy commander, before his tour of the 41st AS on Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Feb., 2019. Oballa was shown some of the history of the squadron, as well as how Musumeci was using his time in the squadron during his assignment there. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell)

The left shoulder of a man with a patch on it.

Italian Air Force Capt. Giuseppe Musumeci, 41st Airlift Squadron aircraft commander, stands in the cargo area of a C-130J at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Feb., 2019. Musumeci showcased the capabilities of the 41st AS and U.S. Air Force C-130Js to Italian Air Force Brig. Gen. Michele Oballa, Italian Air Force Embassy of Italy defense attaché. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell)

Two men looking at each other, while talking.

Italian Air Force Brig. Gen. Michele Oballa, Italian Air Force Embassy of Italy defense attaché, speaks with U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Bret Echard, 41st Airlift Squadron commander, about the differences and similarities of the U.S. Air Force and Italian Air Force C-130Js at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Feb., 2019. Oballa received a tour of a C-130J to showcase the capabilities shared by the Italian and U.S. aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

The military is known for its ability to conduct the mission with both joint services and coalition partners. The Military Personnel Exchange Program is an opportunity that allows foreign service members to immerse themselves into the U.S. military to promote mutual understanding and trust, enhance interoperability, strengthen air force-to-air force ties, and develop long-term professional relationships. 

Italian Air Force Capt. Giuseppe Musumeci is a pilot who sought this opportunity out for himself and is currently serving in the 41st Airlift Squadron for a three-year tour under the MPEP.

“The benefits of the program are to learn new techniques and improve relations between our two sides,” Musumeci said. “To be able to speak in one language, not just English, but also what you all do with the other NATO countries – that would be the key priority of this program.”

The program originally occurred because the Italian Air Force lacked its own C-130 schoolhouse in partnering with Little Rock AFB as the home of Combat Airlift C-130 pilot and loadmaster training. This interchange of cultures and outlooks on problem-solving was quickly seen for the positive change it was, ultimately birthing the MPEP.

Recently, Italian Air Force Brig. Gen. Michele Oballa, Italian Air Force Embassy of Italy Defense Attaché, visited Little Rock Air Force Base and had the opportunity to see first-hand how Musumeci has become a valuable member to the 41st AS construct. This visit showcased the MPEP and how it bolsters relationships and strengthens interoperability among coalition partners.

“The exchange officers that come over bring an entirely new perspective and ideas,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jonathon Esses, 41st AS operations officer. “We can take that information and integrate it into our own processes, thereby making both of us better. It’s diversity of thought that’s coming from an outside agency.”

Along with his enhanced skillset gained through his time in the states, Musumeci has already managed to absorb his U.S. comrades’ perception of each other.

“Everyone is considered important to accomplish the mission,” Musumeci said. “There’s no discrimination between loadmasters and pilots. Another thing I really like is that the unit makes me feel like one of them. They made me feel at home.”

After spending over half a year in the U.S. on this assignment, Musumeci only had one thing to say about his role in the program and his remaining time here.

“I am truly blessed,” Musumeci said.

The MPEP provides officers with the opportunities to participate in personnel exchanges with over 30 air forces around the world. While the Musumeci is serving in the 41st AS, another pilot from the C-130J community is serving in the Italian Air Force.

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.

Photo Gallery: Week in Review