RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- More than 200 U.S. service members from U.S. Africa Command and NATO partners attended the annual Regional Synchronization Working Group conference kickoff Oct. 26, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
The event brought together Africa-focused security cooperation leaders from the departments of State and Defense, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other personnel to synchronize efforts across the diplomatic, defense and developmental sectors in AFRICOM.
The five-day conference began with an all-call, where U.S. Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez, AFRICOM commander, gave his opening comments.
"It is always great to be here at Ramstein," he said. "I want to thank everyone for their planning and execution efforts and the teamwork required to pull this all together. ... I appreciate the work it took to bring people together from all of these different countries to the conference and for taking care of that many people."
During the conference, Rodriguez and other AFRICOM leaders spoke about the campaign plan to help build defense capabilities, respond to crises, deter and defeat transnational threats in order to advance common interests, and promote regional security, stability and prosperity.
U.S. Army Capt. Ross Hertline, executive aid for U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, U.S. Army Africa commander, shared the importance of the integration of partnered nations and joint forces at the conference.
"It is important to come together because nothing that we do within the DOD is a sole service," said Hertline. "Everything we do in Africa involves the (U.S.) Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines; so it's critical that we are synchronized both amongst ourselves and when we go to the continent so we can present that same united front to the Africans, showing them the benefits of joint operability."
Although leaders within AFRICOM work closely, they are geographically separated; so coming together to align their focus is a must to meet their commander's intent.
"It's important to coordinate with agencies we don't normally get that face-to-face feedback with," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Nels Nelson, U.S. Air Forces in Europe African region operational plans branch chief.