African Partnership Flight Rwanda Set to Soar

A student plays a drum along with the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band at the National School of the Arts in Dakar, Senegal.

U.S. Air Forces Africa and the Rwandan Defense Force recently announced this week's launch of the African Partnership Flight in Kigali, Rwanda, from March 4-8. According to DVIDS, "the African Partnership Flight program is U.S. Air Forces Africa's premier multi-lateral military-to-military engagement and security assistance program intended to strengthen U.S. strategic partnerships with African countries share ideas on aviation related topics, and enhance regional cooperation and interoperability."

This will mark the 13th African Parternship Flight, or AFP, since 2012. 

Last year's flight was hosted by Senegal from March 19-23. Previous AFPs include the 2017 Flight in Burkina Faso, and the 2016 Flight in Ghana. Each AFP has a different focus: this year in Rwanda, it is flight, ground, and weapons safety. The Senegal flight last year focused on casualty evacuation, aeromedical evacuation, and air and ground safety; in Burkina Faso in 2017, it was pre-departure preparation, execution and sustainment, and deployment conclusion for humanitarian assistance disaster relief events.

In Senegal, besides working alongside their counterparts from nine African partner nations, US Air Forces personnel had the chance to connect with Senegalese community in other ways, such as through music. The U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) Band jammed with Senegalese musicians at the National School of the Arts, as part of the band's wider community outreach while they were in Senegal to support the AFP. Tech. Sgt. Johnny Kukan of the USAFE Band said of the outreach, "Our role is partnership building and getting out in the community and building relationships between the U.S. and the Senegalese."

The Flight's mission isn't only about sustaining military partnership, but building rapport and gaining trust among our partner nations across the continent. In 2016, Capt. Aaron Charbonneau noted that through the partnership, "We give a lot of training but we gain their culture in return, which is really important in building trust with our African partners."

A number of CultureReady's VCAT courses, such as VCAT West Africa, on JKO include training for humanitarian assistance missions.