Story and photos by
Senior Airman Kristof J. Rixmann
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
United States Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa hosted an African-European Partnership Flight force development event at Ramstein Air Base, June 17 to 21.
The A-EPF is a security cooperation program with European and African partner nations to improve professional military knowledge and skills. This event included workshops in a variety of disciplines, including officer and enlisted development, recruitment and retention, quality of life programs, logistics, and other topics.
Approximately 40 air force delegates from Ghana, Botswana, Zambia, Cameroon, Bulgaria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia participated in the partnership event.
This multilateral military-to-military security cooperation event strengthens U.S. strategic partnerships with key countries in Europe and Africa.
In a closing speech, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Steven L. Basham, USAFE-AFAFRICA deputy commander, summarized the importance of the A-EPF event and how it further strengthens the partnerships between the U.S. and its allied nations.
“When you come together in large groups like this you can’t help but build relationships,” said Basham. “Those relationships that you’ve built within these eight nations and the relationships you will build throughout the rest of the program help to gain a better understanding of the different opportunities that are out there. Those opportunities give us the chance to improve regional security and regional stability. Individually, we each bring something to regional security and stability, but together we’re stronger.”
This A-EPF event focused specifically on force development. Foreign delegates found it interesting to learn and observe how consistent force development, on a large scale, impacts regional security and stability.
“I have seen how force development works on a small level, but this is the first time I’ve seen it done on a large level,” said Ghana air force Group Captain Reginald Cole, Tamle air force base commander. “It’s quite interesting and it’s been a good learning experience.”
This is the second combined A-EPF event since the program started in 2012. This experience, involving countries from Europe and Africa, specifically impressed Albanian air force Col. Agim Shahu, Planning Branch chief.
“The great thing about this week was the participation of the many countries in this event,” said Shahu. “It was the best thing to share your ideas with others and to also get their ideas as well. That was very beneficial.”
As attendees learned about U.S. Air Force force development, they asked: ‘How do you develop the force? How do you make them capable? How do you improve upon their skill sets to do their job? What about their leadership?’
Consistency in training was the primary theme in each answer.
“Prior to the commencement of this partnership (in 2012), (the Ghana air force) was not training people continuously throughout their service,” said Ghana air force Group Captain Thomas Okai. “Based on our experience at Ramstein, that is when we implemented leadership schools to continue force development.”
Okai said the leadership schools and continued training for their airmen empower them and instill the necessary confidence to deliver in their work. He said he believes they are just getting started.
“It’s been a worthwhile experience and we’re all quite happy. Many thanks to the U.S. Air Force for letting us see what you have,” said Cole. “We definitely know what we learned will be put to good use. We look forward to the next partnership flight.”