Ghanaian, Benin, Togolese, Senegalese, Nigerian and U.S. Air Force members hit the flightline loading, guarding and marshalling aircraft March 21, 2012 for the African Partnership Flight 12-2 capstone event in Accra, Ghana.
The capstone gave all nations involved in the partnership building flight the opportunity to share with leadership lessons learned through the exchange of ideas, techniques and practices to improve each air force's capability to secure peace and stability in the region.
"I think today's activities were a fantastic example of what can be accomplished when we bring a bunch of nations to partner together on a multinational level," said Chief Master Sergeant David Williamson, U.S. Air Forces in Europe command chief. "It was just incredible to see those different uniforms from different nations all work together toward a common purpose and a common goal. The professionalism and skills displayed left me with a very good impression of our African partner nations; it also made me very proud of our airmen as well because they're down here doing a fantastic job and being incredible ambassadors for not just our Air Force, but our nation."
The event kicked off with load-crews building a pallet to load onto a U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules guarded by security forces members. The security forces members used skills attained throughout the APF to guard the aircraft and crew against unauthorized personnel, and inspect loads and vehicles on the flightline.
U.S. Air Force security forces put their partner nations' knowledge to the test as they approached the flightline. As soon as the flightline's security was threatened, the APF security members used challenge techniques to put the unauthorized personnel on their faces, eliminating them as a threat to the aircraft and enabling the mission to load the aircraft to continue.
"Our African partners took the techniques we exchanged with them to heart," said Technical Sergeant Jeffrey Griffith, U.S. Air Forces Africa anti-terrorism officer. "They far exceeded my expectations today by conducting textbook-perfect challenge and search procedures."
Once security forces confirmed that the flightline was secure, the load team began using international marshalling honed during APF 12-2 to move pallets, passengers and a vehicle onto the aircraft.
"We all use the same common language now," said Master Sergeant Mark Larmony, 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron. "Using these international hand-signals to load aircraft is a faster and safer way for these neighboring nations to work together."
Load members from partner nations were not only happy to use their new skills in the exercise, but look forward to improving upon them for future operations.
"The techniques we have exchanged in this partnership are very valuable to the standard we operate and transport aircraft in the Ghanaian Air Force," said Corporal Ken Mohammed, Ghanaian Air Force flight engineer. "We appreciate what we have learned from one another so far and hope to learn more. It is especially valuable to us now because the Ghanaian Air Force has an official unit working with the United Nations in the Ivory Coast and our mission there is to provide transport of troops and load. [APF 12-2] will go a long way to help me share my experience and use what I have achieved here to deliver my job."
Participants look forward to sharing these skills and applying them to current missions.
"I'm going to take what I learned here back to those at my unit in Nigeria who couldn't join me here for this experience, said Corporal Amodu Usman, Nigerian Air Force air policeman. "The new vehicle searching techniques I learned can be used to defend against the Boko Haram -- a terrorist group in Nigeria."
Sergeant Christopher Chukuweumeka Udeh, Nigerian Air Force aircraft technician, said that skills he attained in this military-to-military event will help him not only conduct regional search and rescue missions with partner nations, but aid communication with French speaking partners because they now know all the same signals and procedures.
But, what was attained here doesn't stop at communication. Students like Lance Corporal Lydia Opoku, Ghanaian Air Force, said that along with partnership building came friendships between the six different nations who worked together for the first and what she hopes is not the last time.