USAFE vehicle maintenance team ventures to Africa

Senior Airman Amaani Lyle
Kaiserslautern American

A U.S. Air Forces in Europe mobile vehicle maintenance team departed for Maputo, Mozambique’s capital city, Monday to familiarize local defense forces with the U.S. Air Force’s fleet support processes.

USAFE selected the three-member team, including one Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, NCO to respond to Maputo’s familiarization request. The team will take many of its cues from the unit’s previous mission last summer to Malawi, a land-locked nation about 1,000 miles north of South Africa, said Tech. Sgt. Rob Uren, USAFE plans and programs travel contact team leader.

The military-to-military interface with the Armed Forces of Mozambique is the Air Force’s first of its kind in that country, though humanitarian missions have occurred in the region, said Capt. Seong Brownell, USAFE  plans and programs central and southern African regions international relations chief.

“Since every country in Africa is different, we’re not yet sure what to expect, but we hope to strengthen relations with Mozambique and develop a partnership so that we can conduct further events together,” Captain Brownell said.

The familiarization partnership is only one aspect of a broad site picture, Sergeant Uren said.

“Both Malawi and Mozambique have demonstrated that they support our fight in the Global War on Terrorism, so we’re happy to show them how we do business,” the contact team leader said.
Another team member agrees.

“I’m eager to share working processes with them in a communicative, question-and-answer style environment,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Roderiguez, NCO in charge of vehicles and vehicle equipment. “I want to find out what they would like to know and relay that information to them in the most comprehensible way.”

Sergeant Uren emphasized that safety and efficiency are paramount in maintenance support considerations for wheeled fleets, which include but are not limited to tow tractors, fire trucks and aircraft maintenance vehicles.

“We tailor our assets to meet mission requirements, but more importantly, we adjust to meet the needs of organizations that may have limited resources,” he said. “We want the people of Maputo to know that even with budget constraints or other barriers we don’t cut corners on safety or serviceability.”

With a vehicle fleet-versus-mission philosophy in mind, Sergeant Uren said he will reinforce to the Mozambicans vehicle manager responsibilities, parts procurement, and mission-essential repairs.

“We’re going to show them how to get the most out of their fleet, with minimal cost and manning, without compromising quality or reliability,” Sergeant Uren said.

The familiarization may easily become an exchange of ideas, since the Mozambicans may also provide unique methods of vehicle fleet maintenance under leaner and more austere conditions.

“This program will not only foster the exchange of ideas on a maintenance level, but on a USAFE- and Air Force-level as well,” Captain Brownell said.

The exchange of mission ideas may likely evolve into a cultural meeting of the minds.

“I’m really excited to see Mozambique, meet the country’s people and share a little bit of American culture with them,” Sergeant Uren said. “I look forward to relaying some of my know-how from my experiences while in the Air Force logistics and vehicle maintenance business,” Sergeant Uren said. “I’m sure they have many things to share with us and may even have some processes that could become useful for the Air Force − it’ll be wonderful to problem-solve with them.”