CMSAF completes three-country African engagement

DAKAR, Senegal (AFNS) -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy met with senior leaders here from the Senegalese air force as the final leg of a three-nation senior leader engagement Oct. 15.
The tour, which included stops in Botswana and Djibouti, focused on sharing information on enlisted development. Besides engagement with partner nations, the chief met with each tier of enlisted Airmen serving with Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.

"When Airmen come to Africa to take part in engagements with our partner nations, they must be willing to learn," Chief Roy said. "Engagement is about sharing expertise, but we must be open minded, and realize that the U.S. Air Force way of doing things may not be the best way to do things for other air and defense forces.

"We have certain things we do well, and we are willing to share them, but we must also be willing to learn how our partners are doing things and use this to enhance our development," Chief Roy said.

Because of the success the Air Force has achieved, and efforts with partner nations around the globe, Airmen must be cognizant of the example they set and continue to strive for excellence, Chief Roy explained.

"People are watching us," he said. "Every time I meet with a partner nation, it just reminds me how important it is that we continue to develop ourselves. We need to always make sure we understand that the world is watching us, and because of this, we must be the best we can be."

The stop in Senegal focused on enlisted force development, education and the construction of military academies and curricula, and it included senior enlisted leaders from Air Forces Africa and the Vermont Air National Guard, with whom Senegal has a burgeoning state partnership.

Warrant Officer 1 Babacar Ndiaye, the adjutant chief for the Senegalese air force, said the continued cooperation with AFAFRICA and the Vermont ANG is vital. Sharing experience is crucial in helping Senegal as a major contributor to peacekeeping operations and for their internal security, he explained.

"Enlisted development is a key component for our success," he said. "We are at the formation stage, and we can benefit from their experience in developing (our) NCO corps."
Having the U.S. Air Force's top enlisted member enter the discussion was evidence of United States' commitment to the partnership, said Chief Master Sgt. Bill LaPointe, the Vermont ANG command chief.

"The (Senegalese NCOs) are here for the right reasons and enthusiastic about increasing their relevance to the overall success of the force," he said. "It is their process according to their needs and not a blanket remedy that we might come in and try to apply. I think it demonstrates the commitment on our part, that we are going to help this process wherever we can, and the fact that Chief Roy took time to visit them signifies the importance of our partnership with Senegal."

Since the connection with Vermont was formed under the State Partnership Program in 2009, the Vermont ANG has visited the nation 10 times and received a reciprocal visit from Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade in September. It is one of a number of partnerships with African countries.

Chief Roy lauded U.S. Africa Command and its air component for their progress and impact on the continent.

"You can really tell U.S. Africa Command and 17th Air Force are really engaged and strong relationships have been formed, and that's what they were put here to do - to establish those relationships and build capacity," Chief Roy said.