Tag Archives: U.S. Africa Command

Medical assistance to Libya


By Tech. Sgt. Karen J. Tomasik
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

The U.S. Department of State requested assistance in evacuating wounded Libyan fighters to medical facilities outside the country that could treat their injuries. See additional information in the photo caption below and see additional photos here. We’ll be updating the set as more imagery from the mission becomes available.

Photo: Airmen from the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and a Critical Care Air Transport team from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center unload wounded Libyan fighters from a U.S. Air Force C-130J Hercules cargo aircraft Oct. 29, 2011, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. At the request of the Department of State and directed by the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Africa Command is supporting U.S. and international humanitarian relief efforts in Libya. Specifically, the U.S. military transported four wounded Libyans for treatment in medical facilities in Europe and 28 to facilities in the United States.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Chenzira Mallory)

My experiences at Africa Endeavor 2009

Below is a post from Staff Sgt. Christina Zamora, 17th Air Force Communications, about her experiences during Africa Endeavor 2009.


My experiences at Africa Endeavor 2009

By Staff Sgt. Christina Zamora

I recently had the opportunity to take part in a communications exercise in Gabon, Africa. The main goals were to enhance interoperability between the 25 African nations in attendance, while fostering friendships with the hopes of creating lasting working relationships.

Upon arrival at the site, I admit I had no idea what to expect. Being relatively new to the communications infrastructure field, I was unsure how I was going to be able to assist. Luckily, I quickly discovered that I was in the presence of some very talented men and women. I learned that within the first four days of the exercise, we had already surpassed the major accomplishments of the previous year’s exercise. To see the Data Chief’s face as he explained how proud he was of the fact that they had successfully configured a routing protocol was thrilling for me. Not only were these guys smart, they were hungry to move forward. With the major goals of the exercise already accomplished, the data chief and the lead nations decided to set up three additional servers to include DNS, web access and mail. This was a huge personal achievement and one that I was excited to be a part of. We were working successfully with our African partners!

This was my first time to Africa and I really couldn’t have asked for a more enjoyable experience. I met many interesting individuals from many different countries. U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Christina Zamora, from 17th Air ForceEach delegation was extremely proud of their country and was very welcoming. Additionally, I was invited to visit with some of my new friends in their countries so that I could experience the beauty first hand! It was refreshing to be around so many genuinely friendly people.

I will always look upon my trip to Africa with great fondness because of the goals we accomplished and the friends that I made. I think my favorite memories will be of the soccer games we played.

Through extreme heat, the teams played hard and had a great time together. It was inspiring to see everyone come together throughout the event, on and off the field. I am so very glad that I’ll be working with 17th Air Force and U.S. Africa Command for the next four years, as it means I’ll have the opportunity to return to Africa and continue fostering relationships with these great people.

Photo: 17th Air Force Staff Sgt. Christina Zamora verifies a functioning data system with other partner nations participants in Exercise Africa Endeavor in Gabon Oct. 2.

Airmen get to know Ghana during presidential support mission

Master Sgt. Jim Fisher is a public affairs Airman assigned to the 17th Air Force in Germany. Sergeant Fisher is currently in Ghana, Africa, as part of a joint team tasked to provide support during U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit today and tomorrow. Sergeant Fisher gives us a feel for what the troops in Africa experienced as they prepared for and carry out their mission. (Check out the accompanying news story here and associated video here and here.)

Airmen, Sailors and Marines taking part in the presidential support mission in Ghana have been trying to get a sense of what life is like here. We are not shielded from the realities of Ghanaian life. Driving between our accommodations and our base in the capital of Accra reveals a lot.

Under huge posters, billboards, placards and banners welcoming our Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama, stand ordinary Ghanaians. They line the streets in makeshift market stands. They wade through traffic at stop lights to peddle everything from phone cards to boiled peanuts.

Like everyone we encounter here, many smile broadly. We often hear, “Welcome. We are glad you are here.” Many Ghanaians see us as part of the President’s team, signifying his arrival.

As a member of 17th Air Force, also known as Air Forces Africa, I am happy to be perceived in such a positive light and I want to know more about these very engaging people.

In the city that is caught up in a swell of jubilation at the arrival of President Obama, you can see the destitute at every intersection. People with obvious disabilities whose only means of survival is begging. But most of the people who look curiously in the windows of our vehicles are just ordinary people. Many are working mothers trying to support their families. I know this because I have a keener insight into Ghanaian life – my driver. What the streets don’t reveal about the realities of life here, our drivers do.

My driver tells me an average Ghanaian household needs at least $10 a day to live meagerly, but the average Ghanaian salary is usually well below $300 per month. To keep his family at or above that crucial $10, his wife travels to get produce and other foodstuffs from other regions of Ghana to barter for meat or vegetables or to sell them. She could be one of the people we see moving from car to car with a large sack or basket balanced on her head.

Ghana is poor. Life here is hard for ordinary people. We admit to one another that we feel ashamed when we think about the excesses and waste that seem to surround every activity at our hotels. There are few meals served at our hotel that cost less than $10.

Life is much simpler in the average Ghanaian home. I recently gave my driver two croissants from our breakfast buffet. He said they were great and I was shocked to learn that at age 53, he had never had one before.

Maybe we expected to find things better here. Ghana is, after all, a model for democracy and stability in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is one of U.S. Africa Command‘s strongest partnerships on the continent. We read that this is what’s behind Ghana being President Obama’s first choice for a visit to the continent. And it is relatively safe, and relatively stable, and certainly a great example of democracy at work. Their recent Presidential election was decided by less than 40,000 votes. A peaceful transfer of power, all too rare in Africa, ensued.

But this is the developing world, and the realities of life for ordinary people here, as we’ve been learning, are not what we wish they were.

It’s times like this when I am grateful to be a member of 17th Air Force under U.S. Africa Command. I know I’ll get to play some small part in making a difference – in Ghana and many other places on the continent.

A recent discussion between several NCOs and their driver revealed that we are making an impact. While trying to dissuade the persistent attempts of a vendor at a stop light, two senior NCOs began pointing to their driver and saying, he’s the boss. The vendor was looking through to vehicle to determine who might be the leader, who would decide whether to buy or not.

The driver laughed and said, “He knows that a black man can’t be the boss.”

“Oh no,” the senior NCOs protested, “Sure he can. Hey, in our country, a black man is the boss.” Just then we were passing roadside booths filled with t-shirts and soccer jerseys featuring President Obama. The driver smiled, and nodded, conceding this was true. We were all smiling.

That’s when I really felt the impact of being at this particular place and time in history. I felt so grateful to be an American, and to be a member of U.S. Africa Command.