OSI 5 FIR hosts inaugural diversity & inclusion summit

  • Published
  • By Thomas Brading
  • OSI Public Affairs

Over the summer, the Office of Special Investigations 5th Field Investigations Region hosted its inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Summit, which officials said, emphasized the significance of cultural competence within OSI’s 34 units spanning Europe and Africa. 

The summit, held June 28-29, was facilitated virtually, and marked a step in addressing D+I topics in the region.

Notable figures behind the event included OSI Command D+I Council representatives Special Agent Yasmin Sarmiento and Special Agent Michael Crowder from OSI Det. 523 in Izmir, Turkey, Aishah Gustafson from OSI 5 FIR in Ramstein, Germany and Special Agent Lindsay Temes from OSI 25th Expeditionary Field Investigations Squadron, also in Ramstein. 

“We are so accustomed to learning from [computer based training] and PowerPoint training, so it was incredibly refreshing hearing fellow agents and FSIs share their personal stories and unique experiences living and working overseas,” said Special Agent Yasmin Sarmiento, OSI Director's Inspection Program chief. 

This summit revolved around the importance of cultural competence, one of the four primary Dept. of the Air Force Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Accessibility Core Competencies. Attendees heard from six internal guest speakers from 5 FIR, who shared their experiences, both successes and challenges, from their tenure abroad.

Their stories highlighted the role of cultural competence and global perspectives in fostering mission success, innovative solutions, and forging meaningful international partnerships. 

The application of cultural competence has been found to augment several operational areas. It plays an instrumental role in improving mission effectiveness, sparking innovative solutions and cementing international alliances. 

The range of experiences shared spanned from operations in a multi-national setting in Africa to interactions with Afghan travelers during Operation Allies Refuge. The discussions touched on events like Turkey's debut Defense Threat Assessment Methodology Seminar and the unique challenges faced by women in law enforcement and the military.

“For such a small organization, OSI has an immense global footprint; there’s so much we can learn from one another, both professionally and personally,” Sarmiento said. “The 5 FIR event was a great opportunity to help normalize having D+I focused conversations more consistently, while connecting people in a meaningful way.”

In addition, the summit underscored the value of D+I-focused dialogues at the unit level, Sarmiento said. Such conversations enable members to anticipate challenges and offer mutual support in the multifaceted and often intricate overseas environments.

“Over the last unprecedented three years, the Airmen of OSI's 5th Field Investigations Region across Europe and Africa have faced relentless, unpredictable, and complex challenges,” said Col. Laura DeJong, OSI 5 FIR commander. “Together, as a formidable team, we have gleaned significant benefit from our diverse and inclusive force.”

The event, with its narratives and insights, stands as a testament to 5 FIR's commitment to fostering a culture of inclusivity and diversity in its operations, DeJong said. 

“We must continue to learn, evolve and remain committed to ensuring that every American recognizes themselves within our ranks,” she said. “It is through such inclusion and mutual respect of the unique differences, which shape our diversity of thought, that we will maintain a collective edge to compete, deter and defend against our current and future adversaries and competitors.”