Capt. Jack Jackman heads USAFE's humanitarian program, which is at work in some of the world's most impoverished countries.

Capt. Jack Jackman heads USAFE's humanitarian program, which is at work in some of the world's most impoverished countries. (Russ Rizzo / S&S)

RAMSTEIN, Germany — Much attention is paid to fighting of the War on Terror with bombs and bullets, but Capt. Jack Jackman thinks of it in terms of buildings.

Jackman, a member of U.S. Air Force Europe’s acquisition staff, heads a humanitarian program aimed at fostering good relations with some of the most impoverished countries in the world.

Jackman currently oversees 25 projects valued at $3.8 million in countries such as Botswana and Namibia. He works to build solar-powered water wells in Mali, a center for foster children who lost parents to AIDS in Tunisia, and a health care center in Guinea.

The most recent fruit of Jackman’s labor is a community center in a remote village in Namibia that opened Feb. 14. Like all his other projects, Jackman found a contractor within the Air Force to hire local companies to build the center.

“You’d be amazed what we can do with little money,” Jackman said.

The humanitarian relief program is part of a larger Department of Defense effort to foster good relations with unstable regions throughout the world that began after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The thinking goes that if the United States helps lift countries out of poverty, people there are less likely to become terrorists and more likely to build strong relationships with the United States, Jackman said.

The program also helps counteract a negative image that people in some parts of the world hold of the United States because of wars in the Middle East, Jackman said.

“We want to show that we are also doing positive things,” Jackman said. “A school is built and the local village sees how it was fully funded by the U.S. with no strings attached. It’s good will. It’s helping people in need.”

Ambassadors propose projects such as the community center in Namibia to the State Department, which approves about half of all proposals, Jackman said. Then the Department of Defense funds the programs, sending money to its different branches.

In fiscal 2004, European Command received $7.12 million to contract out humanitarian work and gave $1.35 million to the Air Force.

Jackman said U.S. Air Force Europe quadrupled the number of humanitarian projects it coordinated under the program in the past year and a half — a trend he hopes will continue.

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