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Largest African Air Chiefs Symposium to date kicks off

Air chiefs attending the 2017 African Air Chiefs Symposium pose for a group photo in Kasane, Botswana on May 16, 2017. The nations in attendance are Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkino Faso, Burundi, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Keyna, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Malawi, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisa, Uganda, United States of America and Zambia. A representative from the African Union was also in attendance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Krystal Ardrey)

Air chiefs attending the 2017 African Air Chiefs Symposium pose for a group photo in Kasane, Botswana, May 16, 2017. The nations in attendance are Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkino Faso, Burundi, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Keyna, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Malawi, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisa, Uganda, United States and Zambia. A representative from the African Union was also in attendance. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Krystal Ardrey)

Gen. Tod D. Wolters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, speaks during the opening ceremony of the 2017 African Air Chiefs Symposium in Kasane, Botswana on May 16, 2017. The purpose of the symposium is to create a forum for air chiefs from across the African continent to come together to address regional and continental issues, enhance relationships and increase cooperation. This year's conference will focus on the training aspect of force development. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Krystal Ardrey)

Gen. Tod D. Wolters, the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, speaks during the opening ceremony of the 2017 African Air Chiefs Symposium in Kasane, Botswana, May 16, 2017. The purpose of the symposium is to create a forum for air chiefs from across the African continent to come together to address regional and continental issues, enhance relationships and increase cooperation. This year's conference will focus on the training aspect of force development. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Krystal Ardrey)

Maj. Gen. Innocent S. Phatshwana, Botswana Defence Force Air Arm commander, speaks during the opening ceremony of the 2017 African Air Chiefs Symposium in Kasane, Botswana May 16, 2017. This year's conference is co-hosted by the United States and Botswana and will focus on the training aspect of force development. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Krystal Ardrey)

Maj. Gen. Innocent S. Phatshwana, the Botswana Defence Force Air Arm commander, speaks during the opening ceremony of the 2017 African Air Chiefs Symposium in Kasane, Botswana, May 16, 2017. This year's conference is co-hosted by the United States and Botswana and will focus on the training aspect of force development. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Krystal Ardrey)

KASANE, Botswana (AFNS) -- The seventh annual African Air Chiefs Symposium began in Kasane May 16, 2017.

The African Air Chiefs Symposium is an annual forum for air chiefs from across the African continent to come together with the U.S. to discuss important regional and continental issues, and how African air forces can best work together to respond to challenges and create solutions. This year's symposium includes representatives from 29 nations and will focus on the training aspects of force development.

The opening ceremony featured remarks from Maj. Gen. Gotsileene Morake, the Botswana Defence Force deputy commander; Maj. Gen. Innocent S. Phatshwana, the BDF Air Arm commander; Earl R. Miller, the U.S. ambassador to Botswana; Gen. Tod D. Wolters, the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander; and an introduction by each air chief.

“It is indeed humbling and a great feat to see the air chiefs from the various corners of the African continent gathered here for this forum in Botswana for a common cause,” said Morake, who opened the symposium. “I believe I speak for all of you when I say that such a forum creates a unique opportunity to renew contacts and discuss issues of mutual interest among participating air forces.”

The two-day event drew a record number of air chiefs and military leaders, making it the largest symposium to date with three more nations in attendance than last year's conference.

“This is an exciting opportunity to share our thoughts with other air chiefs on professional development as it applies to training events and the enlisted force that day after day provides us with the tactics, techniques and procedures for our air forces' to do so much in the future,” Wolters said.

During the symposium the air chiefs will participate in several discussions and workshops to increase their understanding of each other's capabilities and discuss challenges affecting their regions.

The 29 nations in attendance are Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkino Faso, Burundi, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Keyna, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Malawi, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisa, Uganda, United States and Zambia. A representative from the African Union was also in attendance.