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USAF International Affairs Excellence Award: Award Recipients

The International Affairs Excellence Award is presented annually for outstanding and innovative contributions effective in building, sustaining, expanding and guiding Air Force-to-partner relationships. 

SAF/IA congratulates all of the nominees and thank each of them for their valuable contributions to the International Affairs community. We would also like to thank all of the organizations who submitted nomination packages. Below is a brief summary of each of the 2019 winners’ accomplishments.

Major Nicholas P. Cowan distinguished himself as Director of Operations, 30th Intelligence Squadron, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019.  Major Cowan managed 267 Airmen, executing 24/7 intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations for joint and coalition operations in support of five geographical combatant commands.  Additionally, he was instrumental in re-establishing the National Security Council’s Arctic Strategy Group resulting in the establishment of collaborative principles with our Five Eye Partners.  Finally, upon ratification and implementation of the Prespa Agreement, he worked closely with the Senate and Department of State in preparation for a North Atlantic Treaty Organization accession vote for Northern Macedonia. The distinctive accomplishments of Major Cowan reflect credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Senior Master Sergeant Melvin A. Morena distinguished himself as Manager, Global Health Engagements, Office of the Command Surgeon, Headquarters United States Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa, Ramstein Air Base, Germany from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019.  Senior Master Sergeant Morena invigorated the Command’s medical security cooperation enterprise through his dedication to partner nation relationship building and capability development across Europe and Africa.  Additionally, his superior liaison skills and expertise in North Atlantic Treaty Organization Standardization Agreements were instrumental to the successful integration of Croatia and Slovenia into mass casualty scenarios during the 15-nation Exercise IMMEDIATE RESPONSE ’19. The distinctive accomplishments of Senior Master Sergeant Morena reflect credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Ms. Robyn Leigh Disselkoen-Russell distinguished herself as Deputy Chief of International Affairs, Directorate of Strategy Plans and Programs, Pacific Air Forces from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019.  Ms. Disselkoen-Russell oversaw 160 security cooperation operations, activities, and investments, with over 40 multilateral and bilateral engagements, to include the first Chief of Staff of the Air Force visit to Vietnam since 1975.  Additionally, she spearheaded Pacific Air Forces leadership of the largest-ever Pacific Air Chiefs Symposium, attended by 19 partner nations, including Taiwan.  Finally, her superb leadership, meticulous planning efforts, and seasoned diplomatic acumen proved integral to advancing ally and partner ties across the Indo-Pacific region. The distinctive accomplishments of Ms. Disselkoen-Russell reflect credit upon herself and the United States Air Force.

Mr. Charles D. Michaels distinguished himself as Assistant Military Student Officer, Air University, International Officer School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019.  He managed a 14.6 million dollar field studies program budget in foreign sales support of 343 international students.  Furthermore, he oversaw over 1,000 curriculum hours while enabling two field studies trips to Washington, District of Columbia, and 14 local trips.  Finally, he led a three-week in and out-processing surge while coordinating with 10 off-base agencies, supporting 785 Air War College and Air Command and Staff College international students and their dependents.  The distinctive accomplishments of Mr. Michaels reflect credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.