Providing presidential support in Africa

Compiled Story and photo Story and photos by Tech. Sgt. Denise Johnson
Joint Task Force Public Affairs

***image1***Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines from the United States and Europe are arriving in Africa to provide support for a series of country visits by U.S. President George Bush.

The military is providing an array of mobile support functions for the president’s five-nation visit to the continent. Airmen from satellite communications, aeromedical, contracting and command and control are just a few of the career fields represented at the various locations.

“This is what we do. We move people and cargo; but just as importantly, we move functions. That combination provides the foundation for a successful mission, regardless of the location or goal,” said Col. James Dew, commander for the military’s West Africa support operations.

Senior Master Sgt. Dennis Parise, services superintendent, has a varied duty list to include assured lodging for the personnel and a supply of bottled water. He also establishes how the meals will be acquired and distributed. His job requires constant interaction with local establishments and businesses.

“This job requires a lot of flexibility and diplomacy. I may be seen by my deployed team as an ambassador of sorts, but my job requires me to balance that with an open mind about their culture. To be honest, I think of and consider the people I’m dealing with. That mentality allows me to accomplish my mission,” he said.

The task force members have faced challenges of minimized communication capabilities, lack of power converters and crowded work spaces, but they appear to take it in stride and overcome whatever comes up.

“We adapt and overcome. The few challenges we’ve run into so far are nothing we can’t handle,” said Maj. Leo Gage, Advance Echelon team chief. “We plan and prepare for the unexpected; that’s part of the job. We can’t go to a foreign destination and expect everything to be like it is at home.”

With overall mobility capabilities for every type of mission, the task force team has demonstrated its flexibility and responsiveness here in West Africa, according to Colonel Dew.

“Most of the folks here had very short notice of their deployment. But they’re here…boots on the ground, doing their jobs. Knowing our mission is in support of our commander in chief adds an element of pride and anticipation, but it doesn’t change our overall goal or way of doing things,” Colonel Dew said. “For us, it’s always a matter of applying excellence.”

Editor’s Note: More information about Ramstein’s support to President Bush’s visit to Africa will be published in the Feb. 29 issue.­