General Ward visits 17th AF headquarters

by Tech. Sgt. Alec Lloyd
17th Air Force

Gen. William “Kip” Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, made his first visit to the newly renovated headquarters of 17th Air Force, also known as U.S. Air Forces Africa.

Located in Bldg. 413 on Ramstein, 17th Air Force initially stood up Oct. 1, 2008, as the Air Force portion of U.S. Africa Command.

After inspecting the building and visiting the various duty sections, General Ward held a commander’s call with 17th Air Force staff at the nearby U.S. Air Forces in Europe Conference Center. He congratulated the 17th Air Force on its leading role in providing support for President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Ghana and read passages from a letter thanking 17th AF from U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Donald G. Teitelbaum.

“U.S. Africa Command is our nation’s signal – a statement that Africa matters,” General Ward said. “(Africans) know that they have friends to help build their capabilities.”

General Ward made a special note of the fact that three officers from Burkina Faso were present at the briefing.

The guests are the first-ever members of the West African nation’s military to tour Ramstein and were there to participate in a week-long familiarization course on base security. The general highlighted this exchange of knowledge as typical of the kind of long-term engagements necessary to build good relations between the United States and its African partners.

“This business of sustained security engagement is not something that happens today,” General Ward said. “It will come to fruition in five, 10, 20 years.” 

He characterized this approach as “refreshing, rewarding and lasting.”

“We are helping African nations be all they can be,” he said.