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US Air Forces Africa builds partnerships through APF Kenya

U.S. Air Force special tactics Airman with the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron observes the final demonstration of the African Partnership Flight Kenya 2019 program at Larisoro Air Strip, Kenya, August 25, 2019.

A U.S. Air Force special tactics Airman with the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron observes the final demonstration of the African Partnership Flight Kenya 2019 program at Larisoro Air Strip, Kenya, Aug. 25, 2019. The culminating event, Linda Rhino 2, incorporated multiple skills covered during the week-long program, including combat search and rescue, aeromedical evacuation and personnel recovery command and control. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Renae Pittman)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Anibal Aguirre, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa personnel recovery coordination cell director, observes the final demonstration of African Partnership Flight Kenya 2019, Larisoro Air Strip, Kenya, August 24, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Anibal Aguirre, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa personnel recovery coordination cell director, left, observes the final demonstration of African Partnership Flight Kenya 2019, Larisoro Air Strip, Kenya, Aug. 24, 2019. This year's APF Kenya brought together five nations to exchange best practices on personnel recovery tactics, techniques and procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Renae Pittman)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jared Todd, 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape air advisor, demonstrates signaling techniques during African Partnership Flight Kenya 2019 at Laikipia Air Base, Kenya, August 22, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jared Todd, 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron survival, evasion, resistance and escape air advisor, demonstrates signaling techniques during African Partnership Flight Kenya 2019 at Laikipia Air Base, Kenya, Aug. 22, 2019. The APF program is a military-to-military familiarization program amongst African nations to increase interoperability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Renae Pittman)

LAIKIPIA AIR BASE, Kenya --

Approximately 120 Air Force delegates from the U.S., Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda came together for a week to share personnel recovery topics for this iteration of African Partnership Flight Kenya 2019 held at Laikipia Air Base, Aug. 20-24.

“The African Partnership Flight is U.S. Air Forces Africa’s premier security cooperation program with African partner nations intended to foster military collaboration and strong, long-lasting relationships with and between African partner nations,” said Maj. Erik Anker, U.S. Air Forces Africa lead planner.

This five-day event covered critical skills for successful personnel recovery operations.

“We covered a host of topics related to personnel recovery, including personnel recovery command and control, combat search and rescue, tactical combat casualty care and survival and evasion,” Anker said.

This APF was co-hosted by the Kenya Air Force with instructors coming from both militaries who are subject matter experts in their given field.

“This partnership has brought a wealth of skills within the KAF to enhance the security, coordination and integration within the East African air forces,” said KAF Brigadier John Omenda, Laikipia Air Base commander.

The U.S. instructors came from multiple commands throughout the U.S. Air Force to help facilitate knowledge sharing and best practice exchanges among Eastern African militaries.

“I hope the East African nations will be able to take the information they’ve learned here and not only make their own personnel recovery programs better, but build a program where we can count on one another and ensure all of our isolated personnel come back to their families and countries,” said Tech. Sgt. Jared Todd, 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron survival, evasion, resistance and escape air advisor.

Participants completed four days of instruction with classrooms, demonstrations and field exercises designed to increase capabilities and standardize processes and procedures.

“This information is very important to me as a helicopter pilot,” said Maj. Naomi Karungin, Uganda Peoples Defense Air Force, helicopter pilot. “I now have a better understanding of how to recover isolated persons. I am glad that I can take this information back to my unit and teach my fellow pilots.”

In addition to U.S. Air Forces Africa working to build stronger partnerships in the region, the Massachusetts Air National Guard had representatives help guide discussions as part of the State Partnership Program, which began in 2016.

“Programs like this are important because, under field conditions, you have limited availability, and we want to maximize the survivability of our partners by giving them the tools needed to maximize their survivability,” said Massachusetts Air National Guard Col. Melinda Sutton, 102nd Medical Group commander.

The event culminated in an exercise led by the Kenya Air Force named “Linda Rhino 2” where they utilized all of the skills practiced during the week. The exercise was observed by several air chiefs from across Africa.

“What I saw today in the exercise, was brilliant...it's all about readiness,” said Brig. Gen. James R. Kriesel, Combined Joint Task Force—Horn of Africa deputy commanding general. “We, together, get paid to be responsive, resilient and as lethal as required against terrorist organizations and near peer competitors.”

The final thought for the conference emphasized teamwork.

“We cannot do this alone,” Omenda said. “We need each other. We need teams. You need experienced people to learn from, especially from people who have done it in real-life situations.”

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