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New command may change USAFE's role in Africa

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Ron Przysucha
  • Detachment 4, Air Force News Agency
U.S. Air Forces in Europe Airmen have played an active role in Africa since the 1970s, but future participation has yet to be defined due to the recent establishment of U.S. Africa Command.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced the creation of AFRICOM Feb. 6, but how that will affect Airmen assigned to USAFE is up to the new transition team operating in Stuttgart, Germany.

While the future is currently unclear, Airmen in Europe have already made a tangible difference in Africa according to Brig. Gen. Michael A. Snodgrass, the director of Plans, Programs and Analysis for Headquarters USAFE at Ramstein AB. 

"From 1970 forward, you can count all kinds of engagements we've had with Africa from Bright Star exercises in Egypt all the way through the Atlas series of exercises we've had with some of our friends in the Northern Mediterranean," General Snodgrass said.

In addition to military assistance, USAFE Airmen have also made contributions to the health and welfare of Africans. Countless missions have brought USAFE doctors and dentists to places such as Ghana, Niger and Liberia. As of Feb. 20, explosive ordnance disposal technicians from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, and Spangdahlem AB, Germany, are in Guinea-Bissau in Western Africa clearing landmines and other dangerous remnants of a bloody civil war.

As AFRICOM continues to transition, General Snodgrass said he believes USAFE's role in Africa will continue to be a very vibrant role and he doesn't think it will diminish because there is so much work left to be done.

"Even if (USAFE's) role in Africa is reduced over time, there's so much work left to be done in Eastern Europe that USAFE will remain ... fully employed." 

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