Ninth annual African Air Chiefs Symposium comes to an end

  • Published
  • By Capt. Christopher Bowyer-Meeder
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

The ninth annual African Air Chiefs Symposium concluded following four days of collaboration and strategic communications between air chiefs and senior leaders from 35 African air forces along with senior leadership from U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa.

The AACS is an annual forum for air chiefs across Africa and USAFE-AFAFRICA leaders to discuss continental defense issues and increased cooperation. The 2019 symposium marks the third year in a row it reached its highest attendance, growing by seven nations over last year’s symposium.

“When we bring together this many delegates from across our African partner nations, it is an incredible opportunity to discuss best practices for enhancing partner capability,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, USAFE-AFAFRICA commander. “Together we stand shoulder to shoulder to assist each other in bringing stability and security to the region.”

Personnel recovery was the theme of this year’s AACS and it provided air chiefs a forum to discuss their respective nations’ capabilities and challenges, while also affording them the opportunity to meet face-to-face to strengthen the relationships between their countries.

In addition to the air chiefs’ forum, the symposium also featured a senior enlisted agenda for the second year in a row. The agenda specifically focused on enlisted training and force development.

“What I’m really encouraged to see is how our partners and senior enlisted leaders take the conversations they’ve had here this week back to their formations,” said Chief Master Sgt. Brion Blais, USAFE-AFAFRICA command chief. “They are the real touch points in their air forces and I’m really excited to see the transformative effect I know they can have on their enlisted force.”

An additional aim of the annual symposium is to increase membership in the Association of African Air Forces. The AAAF, a premier African Air Power collaborative association for safety, peace and security, was formed in 2015. Following the addition of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone, the association now features 26 member nations.

Next year’s AACS is scheduled to take place in Kigali, Rwanda, with a focus on strategic airlift.