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Air Force Staff Sergeant-in-Chief JoAnne S. Bass recently visited West Africa, marking the first time she has visited the region since taking up her post as senior air force chief.

“Africa is an emerging front for strategic competition,” Bass said. “The United States, more than any other country, can boast a strong history of partnering with African countries, and this has given us credibility as a preferred partner in Africa. Much of this confidence is the result of the efforts of our Airmen.

The United States has two cooperative security sites in Niger; Air base 101, Niamey and Air base 201, Agaedez. During his three-day visit, Bass met with U.S. Airmen and joint mission partners to gain first-hand knowledge of how Airmen deter and defeat violent extremism in the Sahel to enable a safer Africa, stable and prosperous.

“In 2020, the Sahel saw a 44% increase in violent events in the region,” said Colonel Daniel Kobs, commander of the 409th Air Expeditionary Group. “The threat is real. Our partnerships in West Africa, more than ever, are the key to the fight against violent extremist organizations. Our Airmen are essential to empower our partner forces and build confidence in the region. “

As one of two groups reporting to the 435th Air Expeditionary Wing, the 409th Air Expeditionary Group supports intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, the launch and recovery of unmanned aircraft and the core support for US forces in Niger while working closely with and enabling their counterparts in the Nigerien Armed Forces.

“Our airmen support our AFRICOM mission are incredible, “said Bass,” We ask them to think strategically and execute tactically while combating violent extremist operations, building partner capacities and strengthening African security institutions to achieve common security goals . This is the human element at its best, they are at the heart of this mission.

While US forces have been in Niger on and off for more than 20 years, Africa’s unique geographic and logistical challenges remain, requiring real-time critical thinking and innovative solutions.

“The African continent presents many unique operational challenges,” said the Chief Master Sgt. Corey Crow, 435th Air Ground Operations Wing and 435th AEW Command Chief. “Whether it’s communications, air travel, logistics, or things we think are simple like clean water, our Airmen in Africa are constantly finding innovative solutions with limited resources to deliver expeditionary air power capabilities. safe, reliable and flexible to combat commanders. “

Airmen from the 435th AEW are an essential part of the whole-of-government approach of the United States which relies on diplomacy, development and defense to support and enable capable and responsive African governments; an effort that has implications not only in Africa but around the world.

“Global competitors recognize the importance of Africa to their strategic interests, but their interest is more akin to exploitation than mutual cooperation,” Bass said. “Our airmen in Niger have more than demonstrated the United States’ commitment to helping our African partners create opportunities for economic and political stability and security. It is a victory and it is all the credit of every aviator in Africa.

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