U.S. Air Force, Ghanaian Armed Forces strengthen ties through education and training

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Richard Longoria
  • Third Air Force Public Affairs

Twenty members of the Ghanaian Armed Forces completed a two-week, professional military education course hosted by the Inter-European Air Forces Academy July 19-30, 2021, in Accra, Ghana.

IEAFA’s mission is to strengthen allied and partner nation cooperation through education and training of our only common weapon system - people.

“We develop lifelong ties among our allies and partners,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Robin Cadow, IEAFA commandant. “Ultimately, these relationships, founded in trust, have operational impact.”

IEAFA was founded in 2015 and has historically engaged with only European allies and partners; however, the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act expanded the academy’s authority to educate and train America’s partners in Africa. This was announced during the African Air Chiefs Symposium in March 2021.

Out of 38 air chiefs in attendance, Air Vice Marshall Frank Hanson, Ghana Air Force chief of air staff, was the first to jump at the opportunity. In four-short months, Hanson’s vision became reality when IEAFA sent a mobile training team to Ghana to deliver a condensed version of their curriculum taught in Germany.

“[Hanson] fought for you to be the first on the African continent to receive this training,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Randall Reed, Third Air Force commander. “He boldly stood to ensure Ghana would continue to be a leader in the region, in the world, and in the future.”

The course focused on team building, communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving strategies. The instructors utilized a variety of techniques to improve the participants’ decision-making, flexibility and execution as leaders.

“Our PME course develops students into leaders by helping them identify their strengths and areas of improvements,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Theresa Askew, IEAFA superintendent. “We focus on personal and professional growth by creating learning environments where our students are forced to expand their comfort zones. We provide them tools to be courageous leaders, effective communicators, problem solvers, team players, and to possess the self-awareness and humility to understand that followership is sometimes the most appropriate method to apply for the given situation or task at hand.”

While this was the academy’s first-ever engagement on the African continent, it won’t be the last according to Hanson. “Be assured, this training will continue in Ghana,” he said.

Askew explained that PME is not a one-time course, but rather part of a progressive professional development program that deliberately builds combat capable and relevant leaders.

Hanson added that he is grateful for the professional development his airmen, but more importantly the resulting relationships because “today’s fight, and tomorrow’s fight” require partnerships.

“Over the past two weeks, we’ve built valuable and meaningful connections with one another that will strengthen our partnership as we continue to face future challenges together,” Cadow said. “We look forward to continue to building lifelong ties with all of our African partners.”

The Ghanaian graduates join an alumni group of more than 1,000 officers and enlisted personnel from NATO and Partnership for Peace nations.

“In the eyes of these 20 amazing people, I see the future and the future is great,” Reed said. “This is exciting because the world needs engaged leaders with a thirst for development, and through education and training we will be stronger together.”