17th AF hosts exchange from Burkina Faso

Story and photos by Tech. Sgt. Alec Lloyd
17th Air Force

The 17th Air Force, also known as U.S. Air Forces Africa, recently took another step forward in building meaningful relationships with African nations when it hosted the first-ever visit by a delegation of Burkina Faso officers to an American base in Germany.

Led by Maj. Souleymane Ouedraogo, base commander of Ouagadougou Airport in the West African nation, the group of three officers spent a week studying security practices at Ramstein, Vogelweh and Spangdahlem Air Base.

Seventeenth Air Force members collaborated with the various security forces squadrons to provide demonstrations of entrance security, flightline procedures, arms room protocols, K-9 training and overall base security, command and control.
Master Sgt. Mike Lund, 86th Security Forces Squadron, said he was impressed by the visitors’ enthusiasm and intensity.

“You can tell that they came here to learn,” he said. “They are asking all the right questions.”

The delegation was pleased to be included in Gen. William “Kip” Ward’s meeting with 17th Air Force members Aug. 11. The commander of U.S. Africa Command made a point of welcoming the delegation during his remarks.

“We were most impressed by how he took advantage of that opportunity to welcome us and say how important it is to build relationships with African countries,” Major Ouedraogo said.

That afternoon, the delegation travelled to Vogelweh for a demonstration on proper take-down techniques, with a particular emphasis on using the least amount of force necessary to regain control of a situation. Airman 1st Class Monique Young, 569th U.S. Force Protection Squadron, participated in the presentation. 

“It was a great experience,” she said. “I’m proud to be part of this first exchange. They listened 110 percent; I was struck by how attentive they were to the details.”
Senior Master Sgt. Gloria Ornelas is the Security Forces manager of the 569th. Her knowledge of French helped provide additional instruction and facilitated communication during the visit to the Vogelweh facilities. This also included inspecting a patrol car and all-terrain vehicle, as well as a hands-on demonstration of the Firearms Automated Training System.

“It was good to have them here,” Sergeant Ornelas said. “It has been a wonderful interchange.”

Capt. Hubert Yameoga is a member of the Burkina Faso Gendarmerie, the police organization responsible for the civilian side of the base. He said the most impressive aspect of the instruction was what he called the “mentalite” behind it – the organization, integration and coordination of USAF base security.

He singled out arms room procedures as an excellent example of combining safety and efficiency.

Lt. Dabire Dapre Paul, the third member of the delegation, agreed. He said changes in attitude are the hardest to effect, but had hope for the future.

“If we can have contacts with you, it will help us train,” he said.

Major Ouedraogo said the visit was the first step in helping make that change.  
“What we have seen here will affect our behavior,” he said. “We are thinking more about safety.”

He added that he was very pleased by the reception his delegation received.

“The hospitality was wonderful. Every unit we have seen has been well-prepared to receive us and welcome us,” he said. “It was wonderful. You cannot do better.”