U.S. Air Forces Africa and the Zambian air force co-hosted the Association of African Air Forces Liaison Working Group in Livingstone, Zambia, between 17 and 20 February.
Liaison officers from 25 partner nations attended the working group to discuss the goals of the organization, to include creating an attainable 10 year strategic plan, exercise plan, and drafting formalized procedures.
The LNO WG is one of two events held annually by the AAAF. The second event, the African Air Chief’s Symposium, is a forum for air chiefs across Africa and U.S. Air Forces Africa, and the discussions from the symposium frame the topics for the LNO WG.
“The working group is very important because it is given a lot of taskings from the Air Chief Symposium to be worked on or finalized,” said Col. Adamson Mbewe, Zambia air force LNO.
Due to this work, Mbewe explained the importance of an AAAF liaison officer.
“The liaison officer is basically the point of contact person for the association with their respective air force,” said Mbewe. “He’s the person who coordinates the activities for the association with the air force or Air Chief.”
The working group conducted several activities to address the proposals. The proposals established are voted on as a group and are presented to the Air Chiefs at the next AACS.
“We had a tabletop exercise that got the partners to think about what the association would look like in 10 years. The scenario centered around a natural disaster in a fictitious country and facilitated a lot of conversation among the association members,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Kenneth Herndon, AAAF Secretary General.
The working group also conducted breakout sessions so each of the groups could target a different goal of the AAAF.
“We’re building out a 10 year strategic plan,” said Herndon. “We’re working on the procedures manual for the association, as well as an exercise planning group in order to exercise other scenarios and really let them leverage the resources they have on the continent.”
The AAAF was established in 2015 to foster and strengthen cooperation and mutual support among its members. Since its inception, the AAAF has grown to 26 member-nations with additional countries expressing interest.
The ultimate goal of the AAAF is an African-led, decision-making organization to facilitate cooperation among African air forces to foster dialogue and develop solutions to Air power challenges in Africa.
“We can find a lot of advantages [to the AAAF],” said Lt. Col. Raminosa, Madagascar air force LNO. “A brotherhood of African air forces, the discussions on the various topics make it possible to have a common vision and thus reduce the risks of conflicts, the ability to pool capabilities, and the possibility of bilateral and multilateral cooperation.”
Three additional countries have expressed interest in joining the AAAF and each country sent representatives to observe the working group.
Col. Richard Rubongoya, Uganda air force observer, said, “The liaison officer offers a chance to exchange and compare experiences that are unique to individual member states and hence forge a common way forward.”