U.S. Air Forces Africa, along with the Botswana Defence Force, hosted the 5th annual Liaison Officer (LNO) Working Group in Kasane, Botswana, from Aug. 22-26, 2022.
Twenty-seven African countries participated in the working group. The event allows action officer-level personnel designated by their respective Air Forces to collaborate, and it provides a space for LNOs to exchange experiences and find opportunities to bolster air operations in Africa.
“As African Air Forces, we should be postured to respond to envisaged crises, by planning ahead for the long-term,” said Botswana Defence Force Brigadier Collen Mastercee Maruping, acting deputy air arm commander. “We must use today’s lessons learnt to prepare for tomorrow’s threats. Consequently, this forum is not only providing us with essential knowledge, but it also presents a great opportunity to share our experiences on both technical and regulatory issues of our African-led Association.”
The working group is an Association of African Air Forces event that focuses on AAAF liaison officer activities and collaboration facilitated by U.S. Air Forces Africa. The working group’s diverse range of workshops as well as cultural activities are intended to foster more effective military relationships between participating nations.
“Since its inception, a lot of progress has been made by the association and we are meeting here this week to deliberate further on how we can realize the association’s objectives,” Maruping said. “This week’s forum brings together aviators, Airmen and subject matter experts and other stakeholders to build momentum and a shared understanding needed to create the future together.”
The 27 nations taking part in the 2022 LNO Working Group include Benin, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Somalia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Seychelles, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’lvoire, Mauritania, Tunisia and the United States.
This LNO working group focused on the topics of membership contribution and LNO familiarization.
“Together, I hope to reinforce the foundations of AAAF, so that AAAF is primed to support air operations when and where it is needed across the continent,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Beth Lane, AAAF secretary general.
She also empathized that this week will help develop the way forward for AAAF.
“Together this week, we will shape the future of the Association of African Air Forces,” she said. “There is no better group I would rather work with to achieve this goal.”
The 2022 LNO working group in Kasane is a precursor to the 2023 African Air Chiefs Symposium scheduled to be held in Senegal. The last LNO Working group was held in Accra, Ghana in October 2021 to plan the 2022 AACS held in Kigali, Rwanda.
The AAAF was conceptualized during AACS in 2014 and was established at AACS in 2015 when three African partner nations Mauritania, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal along with the U.S. signed the AAAF Charter. Today, the organization has grown to a 28-member nation.