Airmen from Europe, US on 1st African Partnership Flight in Kenya
By JENNIFER H. SVAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 16, 2016
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — More than 50 airmen from Europe and the United States are preparing to train with their counterparts from three East African countries as part of the first African Partnership Flight in Kenya.
The exercise, which begins Monday, will be the largest of its kind since U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa launched the first African Partnership Flight in Ghana in 2012. The program strives to strengthen relationships with African nations while helping them develop their own air forces, Air Force officials said.
“We try to conduct multilateral training, to pull multiple nations in and train them simultaneously,” said Maj. Todd Tyler, who works in USAFE-AFAFRICA’s international affairs operations branch and is the African Partnership Flight-Kenya mission commander. “This helps us to not only guarantee regional interoperability but also regional cooperation.”
USAFE-AFAFRICA currently has plans to conduct two partnership flights on the continent per year in different countries.
About 45 active-duty airmen based at Royal Air Force Lakenheath in England, Ramstein Air Base in Germany, and some deployed to the Horn of Africa, will join more than a dozen Air National Guard members from Massachusetts and New Jersey for the training drills. Nearly 170 Kenyan military personnel will be joined by small groups from Uganda and Tanzania, Tyler said.
“What we’re really aiming for is ... to help these partner nations fight their own transnational threats; strengthen their own armed forces to the point where they are self-sustaining,” Tyler said.
The first four days include instruction on survival and evasion principles, tactical combat care for medics, airfield security and base defense and aircraft maintenance.
“These are the specific areas that the Kenyan defense forces said that they need strengthening (in),” Tyler said.
After the classroom portion at a Kenyan air force base, the event’s focus will turn to personnel recovery training for Kenyan, Ugandan and Tanzanian troops.
The Kenyans “recently had an F-5 pilot eject and they had trouble recovering him, so this is something they specifically asked for,” Tyler said. During that two-day exercise, the Kenyans will fly their helicopters to practice locating and recovering a fictional downed pilot with U.S. assistance.
At the request of the Kenyans, U.S. medical personnel will also visit a rural area to provide basic medical care to up to 5,000 villagers, said Capt. Danielle Butler, USAFE-AFAFRICA international health specialist and African Partnership Flight-Kenya medical planner. Dental treatment will also be provided, she said.
Assisting the trainers and medical personnel will be eight airmen with the Air Force’s Language, Regional Expertise and Culture Program, known as LEAP, who speak Swahili.