37 African nations, U.S. kick-off AACS 2023 in Senegal

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Michael Battles
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

The Senegalese Air Force, along with the Association of African Air Forces sponsored by U.S. Air Forces Africa, officially kicked off the 12th annual African Air Chiefs Symposium with an opening ceremony, Feb. 28, 2023, in Dakar, Senegal.

This year’s AACS is co-hosted by Senegalese Air Force Brig. Gen. Pap Souleymane Sarr, Senegal Air Chief of Staff, and U.S. Air Force Gen. James Hecker, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, respectively.

“The Association of African Air Forces is a great platform for us to gather and transform concepts into reality,” Hecker said. “This forum, the African Air Chiefs Symposium presents a unique opportunity to confront key challenges that threaten a stable and prosperous Africa. Our open dialogue will address this year’s theme of African Air Forces in the Fight Against Transnational Threats.”

The African Air Chiefs Symposium is a multinational security cooperation initiative that features a diverse range of workshops as well as cultural activities. It is intended to foster more effective military relationships between participating nations.

The 38 participating nations include: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Zambia, Uganda and the United States.

“These events promote dialog, help bridge capabilities, promote integration, and enhance peace,” U.S. Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., Chief of Staff of the Air Force. “This year's symposium is focused on African Air Forces in the fight against transnational threats like humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, the importance of intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance to regional security, as well as the contributions of women to peace and security.”

AACS 23 is focused on various small-group sessions to foster a spirit of collaboration, a senior enlisted leader forum, and cultural events to strengthen the partnership between all nations involved.

The Association of African Air Forces was conceptualized during AACS 2014 and established at AACS 2015 when three African partner nations Mauritania, Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal and the U.S. signed the AAAF Charter.

Somalia became the 29th member of the association when Somalian Air Force Brig. Gen. Mohamud Sheikh Ali Mohamed, Chief of the Somalian Air Force, signed the AAAF Charter at the end of the opening ceremonies.

“The Association of African Air Forces is in its 8th year as an organization, providing strength and cooperation, ensuring a coalition to support air operations across Africa, and leveraging each nation's unique capabilities and contributions,” Brown said. “During this symposium, I encourage you to collaborate and build relationships. Learn from one another, have open and honest dialogue, and ask the difficult questions to guide progress.”

The African Air Chief Symposium is hosted each year by a different member of the Association of African Air Forces. The symposium first started in 2011 in Ethiopia and had its last in-person event in 2022 in Rwanda.