AFAFRICA, African partner nations meet virtually to discuss future interoperability

  • Published
  • By Capt. Kaila Bryant
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

U.S. Air Forces Africa hosted the first Executive African Partnership Flight conference virtually from Ramstein Air Base, Nov. 20.

The EAPF was created to bring together air chiefs from African countries to make tangible advances toward regional security objectives. In the past, the APF event was coordinated with a large group of action officers from participating African partner nations.

“This year’s event is the Executive African Partnership Flight,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Brian Dunn, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa operations planner. “It’s bringing together some of those higher level leaders — the Air Chiefs of some of our partners — to discuss higher level concerns and lessons learned.”

The APF is AFAFRICA’s premier security cooperation program with African partner nations. It strengthens U.S. strategic partnerships with African countries through sharing ideas on aviation-related topics, improving professional military aviation knowledge and skills, and enhancing regional cooperation and interoperability.

Multiple African nations participated in the teleconference, to include participants from Senegal, Mauritania and Tunisia.

“Through the APF program, we believe that we can innovate and achieve our objectives and create opportunities for a win-win cooperation where we can interact and work together,” said Royal Moroccan air force Maj. Gen. Hassan Fakri, deputy inspector of the air force.

The EAPF included three main discussions focused on the current status of African air forces, upcoming multilateral engagements on the African continent and the possibility of sharing future training events between African partners.

Fakri described several challenges for many African nations that require “the consideration of our bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms by strengthening the framework of our dialogue to promote peace, enhance security and ensure lasting stability in Africa.”

The global pandemic required planners to shift from an in-person meeting to a virtual meeting, eliminating the need for travel while still allowing leaders and partners the opportunity to come together and discuss future operations.

“Even in the midst of COVID-19, it has not been easy because of the restrictions, but still we are operating,” said Rwandan air force Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Bayingana, Rwandan air force chief of staff.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, echoed the sentiments.

“As we look at some of the integration programs, whether that be air-to-ground integration or other types of activities we need to find ways to work through the different restrictions so that we can continue some of the really critical training opportunities available to us going forward,” Harrigian said.

The U.S. military’s mission on the African continent is to assist African states and regional organizations to strengthen their defense capabilities and better enable Africans to address their security threats and reduce threats to U.S. interests.

As the virtual conference came to close, participants expressed their thanks.

“We want to express our deep appreciation for your support,” said Nigerian air force Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Idris, Nigerian air force deputy chief of air staff. “We see more of your people trying to work along with us and bring us on board and I think that is quite commendable because in the past, we didn’t have that kind of support, but today, we are very proud.”

Planning continues for the next collaboration between AFAFRICA and the African air chiefs to continue promoting cooperation between the participants. AFAFRICA is working with African partners to determine a location to best support objectives of the next event or exercise.