Top enlisted Airman visits Horn of Africa

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Heather Stanton
  • Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Public Affairs Office
The chief master sergeant of the Air Force spent a day here to see firsthand the role Airmen play in the mission of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and throughout the U.S. Africa Command theater.

During the Oct. 13 visit, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy visited Airmen in various work centers around the camp.

"What Airmen are doing here is important," the chief said. "You have to understand your presence here has an impact on both the military and civilian populace around you. Each and every day, what you do has a strategic impact around the world; it's not just about changing the tire on an aircraft."

Though this was the first time Chief Roy has been to Africa, he noticed how engaged U.S. AFRICOM and 17th Air Force officials are throughout the continent.

"I see their presence in the theater," he said. "You can't do this mission from afar, and it's evident to me that AFRICOM and 17th Air Force leaders are engaged in this theater."

The mission in Africa is different than in Iraq and Afghanistan. Servicemembers are not going in and kicking down doors, but rather they are building relationships and mentoring partner nations to help build their security capacity.

"We use kinetics when we have to (in other theaters), but the non-kinetic aspect of warfare is one that is not just about the military, but is about governmental and nongovernmental agencies, and I think that's some of the challenge," the chief explained. "I think we work well with joint and coalition partners, but not a lot of (Airmen) have a lot of experience with other (U.S.) agencies."

Another challenge, Chief Roy points out, is the new focus on building partner nation capacity.

"That's fairly new for us as an Air Force," Chief Roy said. "For Airmen coming into U.S. AFRICOM and 17th Air Force, the biggest challenge, I believe, is understanding the mission. It's different, but that's who we are today. Our people will adjust, and they'll train for that (mission). Those non-kinetic pieces are just as important, if not more important, than those kinetic pieces. Building partner-nation capacity; working with local militaries, government agencies, working with nongovernmental agencies; is important to the security of Djibouti, surrounding nations and the security of the U.S."

During his visit, Chief Roy held an Air Force enlisted call where he shared his focus areas: being ready for joint and coalition operations, deliberate development and building resiliency.

"We are the smallest Air Force we've ever been," the chief said. "We have about 40,000 Airmen deployed around the world. But every single day, we have about 200,000 of our Airmen employed by a combatant commander."

The chief believes predeployment training specific to the mission is important for all Airmen.

"It's not about the combat aspect," he said. "It is about the capacity to work with another nation and all the entities within. That to me is a piece (the Air Force) needs to look at for our predeployment training."

Chief Roy also received a mission brief from Rear Admiral Brian Losey, the CJTF-HOA commander, and Command Sergeant Major Scott Mykoo, the CJTF-HOA senior enlisted leader.

"I was absolutely impressed with the leadership here at CJTF-HOA," the chief said. "They really appreciate the work our Airmen are doing for the task force. I thank them for their leadership and continued support of our Airmen deployed here."