AFAFRICA Airmen solidify bond with Senegalese air force

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  • By 1st Lt Hannah Durbin

A team of seven Airmen, led by Brig Gen Christopher Ireland, U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa chief of staff, conducted a force development engagement with the Senegalese air force in Dakar and Thies, Senegal, May 25-28, 2021.

Force development engagements strengthen AFAFRICA’s relationships with partners like Senegal and provide an invaluable platform for sharing ideas and best practices to enhance essential capabilities.

“This program gives us a chance to share ideas on how to meet current threats and overcome various challenges from the institutional capacity building perspective,” said Mr. Noel Fachi, USAFE-AFAFRICA force development program manager. “Getting new aircraft and other materials is important, but if the foundational personnel and resource management systems aren’t in place, having the best equipment won’t be enough to maintain an effective force.”

Throughout the week, Airmen facilitated several discussions with their Senegalese peers on topics such as leadership, airmanship, administrative processes, doctrine and personnel management. These workshops created an environment for the partners to come together to develop critical skills for addressing problems currently ripe in the region.

“The relationship between the Senegalese and U.S. Air Force is important in different ways, but especially the U.S. support of training our Airmen,” said Brig. Gen. Papa Souleymane Sarr, chief of staff of the Senegalese air force. “I’ve been trained several times in the U.S., like many of my comrades; this partnership is very important to us.”

AFAFRICA Airmen have been conducting force development engagements with the Senegalese air force since 2017. In addition to AFAFRICA Airmen traveling to Senegal, Senegalese Airmen have visited Ramstein Air Base, Germany, twice for force development engagements.

“What I’ve seen reinforced this week is that the shared training experiences have a lasting impact,” said Ireland. “Our business has fundamental elements that we all share, so when we have a moment down the road where things might become difficult, we have those experiences to fall back on. When we need to be there for each other in a difficult moment, we won’t be seeing each other for the first time.”

The Senegalese air force is aiming to double its size in the next five years, a goal to which the force development mission will provide critical support through the sharing of important tools and practices for retainment, recruitment and general force management.

To conclude the week, the team visited the child development center on base and donated over 2,500 medical-grade masks to assist in the continued fight against COVID-19.

USAFE-AFAFRICA conducts force development missions across 28 countries in Europe and Africa to empower ally and partner nations through the development of foundational capabilities and enduring relationships.