AF leaders from Africa, US meet in Ethiopia

Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Stefanie Torres
Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia ― Air Force leaders from more than 20 nations across Africa joined with U.S. Air Force leaders April 26 to discuss aviation issues and develop partnerships across the continent.

The 2011 African Air Chiefs Conference, which ran through April 28 and was hosted by Air Forces Africa (17th Air Force), is the largest gathering of air chiefs across African nations to date.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy, and Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward, Air Forces Africa commander, spoke during the opening day of the conference and listened to issues faced by many partner nations across the continent.

General Schwartz addressed an audience of more than 150 military and diplomatic leaders as the keynote speaker, telling them that members of the represented air forces share common goals and challenges despite their different backgrounds and cultures.

“This conference brings together a community of Airmen who are connected by an appreciation of what air power can do to present additional strategic and operational options for our national and coalition leaders, and who are bound by a shared desire for stability, security, political viability, and opportunity for economic development in Africa,” General Schwartz said.

In discussing how the U.S. military supports American foreign policy objectives and vital national interests, General Schwartz said joint military leadership is being recalibrated to be more effective by emphasizing three key areas:

» Mutual responsibility, respect, and support with and to U.S. interagency and international partners;

» Full spectrum military capabilities to underpin U.S. foreign and defense policy; and

» Direct and indirect leadership approaches as facilitator, enabler, convener, and guarantor of support to broader U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives, and those of U.S. friends and allies around the world.

“The conference gives us an opportunity to work together on issues that are most important to regional cooperation and stability,” General Woodward said.
She said the air chiefs will also “strengthen the personal and professional relationships that bring us together as Airmen, colleagues and friends, so that we are better able to build bilateral and multilateral air partnerships that benefit us all.”

General Woodward also pointed out that enduring partnerships, with the results of respect, integrity and trust, are goals of Air Forces Africa.

“U.S. Air Forces Africa emphasizes the importance of being a reliable partner, one with goals and programs that will be sustained over the long-term,” she said. “This conference is a prime example of our desire to hear and learn from the many perspectives our African partners bring with them.”

AFAFRICA, located on Ramstein, is the Air Force component to U.S. Africa Command and is responsible for U.S. Air Force activities and programs in Africa. Since the unit activation in 2008, Air Forces Africa has worked in partnership with African nations to employ a full spectrum of capabilities, to include humanitarian airlift support, as well as civil and military engagements on the continent.

(The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, contributed to this story.)