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Annual African Air Chiefs Symposium begins

DOUALA, Cameroon (AFNS) -- Military leaders of 17 African nations and the U.S. gathered for the fourth annual African Air Chiefs Symposium to discuss air force capabilities and important regional issues.

Gen. Frank Gorenc, the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, attended symposium in 2013 and was on hand to deliver opening remarks to start the symposium.

"We are gathered in Cameroon to build on the accomplishments of previous meetings and focus on practical solutions to persistent problems," Gorenc said. "It is my goal that we will leave Cameroon with a clear sense of strategies and arrangement that will work best for Africa, concrete commitment of a network of African Air Chiefs, contacts for effective collaboration and fond memories of a hugely successful event."

The current symposium marks the largest one to date, with a cross-section of invited countries spanning a wide area across the continent. Event discussions will incorporate multiple topics such as air security and surveillance, airpower contributions to counter violent extremist organizations, airfield security, and airlift support for peacekeeping operations.

"In this room, there is a community of Airmen with a tremendous amount of diverse experience in peacekeeping and counterterrorism,” Gorenc said. “We can leverage that experience, learn from one another and develop a way ahead that increases all of our security."

The symposium will consist of six roundtable discussions facilitated by scholars from the Air Command and Staff College and the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. The air chiefs will also drive discussions based on their experiences and expertise.

"I challenge all of us to think outside the box, and to think regionally as we look to develop capabilities," Gorenc said.

The U.S. Ambassador to Cameroon Michael Hoza, also attended the opening ceremony and delivered remarks.

"President Barack Obama invited your heads of state to Washington for an epic, changing summit meeting about the future of Africa," Hoza said. "This is Africa's decade."