As the 2013 Regional African Air Chiefs Conference came to a close here Aug. 22, some of the U.S. and African leaders in attendance shared their thoughts on the event.
"We are at the end of what has been an extremely valuable symposium," said Lt. Gen. Craig A. Franklin, 3rd Air Force commander. "The challenges we face are not ones that can be solved by a single country, and I was amazed at how quick you all were to offer help to your neighbors."
The symposium consisted of three days of discussions, idea-sharing, and meetings with various officials to discover new ways that African air forces could partner together and create solutions for common challenges.
"We need to advance the development of our air forces," said Col. Leonard Batossi, Benin's air force chief of staff. "This symposium has given us a chance to strengthen cooperation partnerships between attending countries in order to meet security challenges at the regional levels."
Heidi Grant, the deputy under secretary of the Air Force, international affairs, offered suggestions during discussions and highlighted the benefits of creating a global community of Airmen.
"We need a global coalition of capable partners that can share the responsibility for security around the world," she said. "The message is simple: We can better accomplish our mission when we work together."
One of the biggest takeaways was realizing how the scope of air capabilities varies throughout the region.
"It would enhance the strength of our air forces if we learned to cooperate with each other to fill gaps and tackle the challenges we face," said Brig. Gen. Ousmane Kane, Senegal 's air force chief of staff.
Franklin expressed how he looked forward to meeting again at future symposiums to evaluate progress and adapt to new challenges.
"Let me end with a final thought that I think summarizes this symposium," he said. "The challenges that we face alone are daunting. But, no challenge is too great that we cannot overcome together."