Association of African Air Forces continues to grow

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany —

(Editor’s note: Numerous civilian employees at Hill Air Force Base also serve part-time in the Guard or Reserves. Jennifer Eaton, 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs, serves as a major in the Utah Air National Guard and recently returned from a deployment to U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa where she served as the African Air Chiefs Symposium Interim Director.)

Three years since its inception, the Association of African Air Forces continues to build steam as a dynamic force for cooperation and stability on the African continent. A voluntary, non-political organization, the association focuses on the exchange of experiences and ideas, as well as collaborative efforts to support air operations across Africa. Through the forum, African partner nations are increasingly stepping up to confront collective challenges such as human suffering, poaching, violent extremism, and drug trafficking.

What began with four initial signatories — Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Senegal, and the United States — now boasts 20 highly engaged members with more poised to join this fall.

“Last year, we were fortunate to add four to the roster, and this year we hope to see more of our robust Air Force partners formalize their participation as well,” said Jill Diem, AAAF coordinator and secretariat.

Modeled after the System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces, a long-standing framework geared toward strengthening the bonds between Air Forces in the Western Hemisphere, AAAF members similarly pledge their commitment to friendship, mutual support, and advances in air-focused interoperability.

The formal addition of new partner nations to the charter occurs each year in conjunction with the African Air Chiefs Symposium. This year’s AACS, is scheduled for late October and will be co-hosted by the Royal Moroccan air force. New signatories will be recognized during the closing ceremonies.

AAAF members will have the opportunity to meet prior to the symposium to engage in important dialogue about advancing the association’s framework and objectives. While the AAAF currently operates within the construct of the AACS, the overarching vision is for AAAF to eventually take the lead in planning the symposium, a construct Diem sees as essential for long-term viability.

A new development for the organization this year is the creation of an AAAF liaison officer working group, which will meet this summer. The working group will last two days and will include proposed changes to the AAAF Charter and new frameworks for the AAAF and the AACS. The group will also discuss plans for future African Partnership Flight engagements.

“It’s an important step forward because it’s the first step in truly transforming the AAAF into an actionable, African-led organization,” said Diem.

AAAF members are thankful for the opportunity to engage in dialogue on important topics in a constructive, non-attributive environment.

“There’s been a lot of talk in the past and now is the time for action,” said Brig. Gen. Joseph Diop, Senegalese Air Force Chief of Staff.

Though no organization is exempt from occasional growing pains, Diem explains the association’s progress and accomplishments drastically outweigh any obstacles.

“It’s an exciting time to be associated with the AAAF,” said Diem. “The engagements and relationships we’re facilitating will pay dividends for multinational cooperation and regional stability well into the future.”