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6 nations stand together during African Partnership Flight-Djibouti

U.S. Air Force Maj. Dirk Casson, left, speaks with Ugandan air force Maj. Tabaro Kinconco during African Partnership Flight-Djibouti Feb. 7, 2015, at Djibouti Air Base, Djibouti. The goal of the event was to discuss possible best practices of the neighboring nations and strengthen relationships among Airmen to improve regional security. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Wilson)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Dirk Casson, left, speaks with Ugandan air force Maj. Tabaro Kinconco during African Partnership Flight-Djibouti Feb. 7, 2015, at Djibouti Air Base, Djibouti. The goal of the event was to discuss possible best practices of the neighboring nations and strengthen relationships among Airmen to improve regional security. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Wilson)

DJIBOUTI AIR BASE, Djibouti (AFNS) -- About 80 Airmen from Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the U.S. stood together for African Partnership Flight opening ceremonies Feb. 7, at Djibouti Air Base, Djibouti.

This formation embodied the spirit of APF-Djibouti -- airmen from partner nations working together for a common cause. Participants are discussing best practices throughout the five-day event, which is the first in East Africa, to learn from each other and strengthen relationships between neighboring air forces.

"This workshop will work on reinforcing partnerships in the air," said Lt. Col. Kalinleh Wahib, the Djibouti air force chief commander, during his opening remarks. "There will be an exchange of ideas and different points of view ... and it will be an opportunity for all the participants to create friendship ties."

Djibouti and the United States are co-hosting the event, which includes workshops on load planning, flightline security, crash and fire procedures, and aircraft maintenance practices.

"Topics you will discuss this week are at the core of a professional air force," said U.S. Air Force Col. William West, the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa deputy commander. "I challenge you to take advantage of all of the opportunities to learn from each other this week. Each one of you has something significant to contribute to this forum."

U.S. Airmen from U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, as well as the 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron, are facilitating the discussions, which include hands-on workshops with a Djiboutian air force cargo aircraft, and fire and crash rescue truck.

"We expect to get a lot in terms of how we can develop our interoperability within the region," said Ugandan Maj. Tabaro Kiconco, an APF-Djibouti participant. "African Partnership Flight is very fundamental to looking at aspects of mutual cooperation between air forces within the region."

African Partnership Flight was created to enhance overall African air sovereignty and regional security by providing a forum to strengthen the partnerships of regional air forces on the continent.

The first African Partnership Flight was hosted in Ghana in March 2012 and has since become the premier program for the U.S. Air Force to deliver aviation security and cooperation in Africa. In 2014, USAFE-AFAFRICA facilitated events in Angola, Mauritania and Senegal. There is one more African Partnership Flight tentatively scheduled in 2015 with a date and location to be determined.

Although the strengths, challenges and capabilities of air forces throughout African nations vary greatly, certain core competencies remain the same.

"While we may all fly different aircraft, we all share common challenges of sustaining, maintaining, and generating airpower," West said. "By working together we can improve the airpower of each nation and have a regional impact in East Africa."

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