Air Force translators enable water sustainment project for African partner nations

  • Published
  • By Mikala McCurry
  • Air Force Culture and Language Center Outreach Team

Eleven German Language Enabled Airman Program Scholars aided the 435th Air Expeditionary Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and the 409th Air Expeditionary Group, Nigerien Air Base 201, Agadez, to share best practices with African nation partners through language support that further enhanced water sustainment at Nigerien Air Base 101, Niamey, Niger.  

Through the Air Force Culture and Language Center’s Training Partnership Request, the 435th AEW requested translation support for a technical writing project to translate two major documents. The documents, totaling 62 pages, needed translation from German to English. 

“This technical writing project demonstrated the can-do impact of LEAP Scholars on building partnerships in Niger and meeting short-notice operational needs through language and cultural skills,” said Christopher Chesser, AFCLC’s Language Division chief. “In response to Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr.’s call to ‘Accelerate Change or Lose,’ our scholars are smashing old paradigms and bringing the capability to bear when and where it’s needed.” 

The translation of these documents was critical for continuing a project in progress with the 435th AEW and its German partners to drill a well at a deployed location for enduring water sustainment. Without support from the LEAP team, the unit’s mission could have been postponed or derailed. 

The LEAP team coordinated with members around the globe and divided into teams. Each team then divided the pages equally amongst team members to work translation. After completing the translation of their assigned section, members sent their documents to a designated partner for review. The lead from each team consolidated the documents and looked for discrepancies. The consolidated documents were then sent out one final time for review before a final copy was sent to the requester.  

German LEAP scholar Maj. Franklin Nesselhuf participated in the project as his first official translation opportunity for the Air Force. 

“The documents prevented the USAF from having to go through the testing and verification process a second time,” he said. “The documents we were using were a German translation from French, from the government of Niger, and revealed the water was too hard for use with filtration. That information will be very useful in informing the civil engineers where to drill and the requisite facilities needed to make the water potable. As we look to compete against Russia and China in Africa, developing bases and promoting stability in societies will be key to geopolitical success and human flourishing.”  

Lt. Col. Gordon Kinney, director of staff at the 435th AEW, thanked the LEAP Scholars for their efforts in fulfilling the translation needs of this project. 

“Africa is an unforgiving environment,” he said. “Between the heat, dust, wind and lack of water, our Airmen are taxed daily. This well affords our Airmen the peace of mind they need to focus on delivering secure, reliable, and flexible power projection platforms to combatant commanders and that’s thanks to the efforts of a few brilliant, dedicated LEAP scholars.” 

Before the requested translation support, the German partners involved in the project had already accomplished well drilling on their side of the base. The team at 435th AEW needed a translation of these documents concerning the established well to expedite and enable drilling of the U.S. forces’ well. Without the translation of these documents, U.S. forces could not proceed with digging the well for airbase sustainment. Funding and engineering were in place, so the document translation was the final piece needed to commence the time-sensitive project.  

Lt. Col. David Troxell, commander of the 768th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron, also expressed appreciation for the LEAP team and their work to support a project that will significantly enhance essential systems on base. 

“This translation helps streamline a $500,000 project, ultimately supporting a $1.6 million total water production, treatment and distribution system,” he said. “This will go a long way to calm our nerves about sourcing water so we can focus on sustaining base operations, building our African partner’s defense capabilities, and enabling counter-violent extremism operations in the Sahel. This isn’t just a win for the U.S., it’s a win for all our allied and partnered nations."