Airman Becomes First US Woman to Attend Royal Thai Air Force’s Air Command and Staff College


An airman is the first U.S. servicewoman to attend the Royal Thai Air Force’s Air Command and Staff College, as the school begins to admit female officers for the first time in its history.

Maj. Jessica Padoemthontaweekij, an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force, joined the class Oct. 3. Previously, the country’s Air Command and Staff College had been open to men only.

“I am excited about the opportunity to learn and integrate with the Royal Thai Air Force, and to be a part of a momentous step forward in the integration and representation of women leadership and diversity in this bilateral military partnership,” Padoemthontaweekij said in a press release Monday.

Read Next: Air Force Awarding 96 Flying Crosses, 12 Bronze Stars for Afghanistan Evacuation Efforts

The Royal Thai Air Force opened its eligibility policy to women “in an effort to promote diversity and inclusion,” an Air Force press release said Monday. Five women from the country’s air force will join alongside Padoemthontaweekij. She was “one of the most qualified officers” for the opportunity, an Air Force spokesperson said.

“Her selection for this deliberate development was based on her strong demonstrated potential for future contribution to the Air Force,” a Department of the Air Force spokesperson told

Thailand and the United States have had a formal military partnership agreement for more than 200 years. Since 1970, the Royal Thai Air Force has sent 128 officers to complete Air Command and Staff College training at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Likewise, the Department of the Air Force frequently sends airmen and Guardians to allies and partners’ military colleges and schools.

Last year, Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones ordered a review of gender-specific policies, the service said in the press release. She directed a review of the U.S. collaboration with the Royal Thai Air Force’s Air Command and Staff College and the eligibility requirements, paving the way for the change.

“Leaving talent on the table means we’re leaving lethality on the table, and we’re not about to do that,” Ortiz said in the release. “I’m proud that we could take this step forward together with the Royal Thai Air Force — a significant step toward strengthening the enduring U.S.-Thailand alliance.”

Padoemthontaweekij’s enrollment marks Ortiz’s latest effort to analyze and address some gender disparities and policies that excluded pregnant service members in the Department of the Air Force.

Ortiz announced last month that pregnant service members and civilians can now apply to Air Force Officer Training School, reversing the service’s policy that barred candidates from going through the program until 12 months postpartum.

In August, Air Mobility Command allowed pregnant airmen to keep more information about their gestation private from their units.

Also in August, officials at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, Hill Air Force Base in Utah and Robins Air Force Base in Georgia created more private and secure spaces for breastfeeding airmen to pump.

Earlier this year, the Air Force’s Maternity Uniform Pilot Program, otherwise known as “Rent the Camo,” was unveiled and will give pregnant airmen free maternity uniforms at certain bases.

Additionally, in March, a new policy gave active-duty dual-military couples in the Air Force and Space Force extra time to decide whether they want to separate from service after having a child.

The Department of the Air Force began enacting a lot of these policies following a 2021 Air Force Inspector General report that pointed out that maternal bias was one of the primary reasons women did not feel included in the ranks.

— Thomas Novelly can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

Related: Ban on Pregnant Service Members and Civilians Applying to Air Force Officer Training School Lifted

Show Full Article

© Copyright 2022 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.