U.S. Africa Command Staff
Investing in air power is never simple. Budgets are tight, and demands come from many directions. Aircraft are costly, hard to maintain and require extensive training to operate. But countries that make smart investments find that it pays off.
Countries with strategic airlift use it to quickly respond to domestic and regional crises. Air forces with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities can pinpoint the location of enemies and target a ground-based or aerial response. Militaries flying light attack aircraft are well suited to the close-air support operations needed to defeat insurgencies.
Countries also are showing that partnerships can lower the costs and expand the benefits of air power.
In the Lake Chad Basin, Nigerian Air Force pilots flying light attack aircraft are decimating Boko Haram camps, helping the Multinational Joint Task Force fight the insurgency. Kenyan pilots flew South Sudanese and Burundian troops to the East African Community’s mission in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Angolan pilots under the Southern African Development Community transported equipment and troops from as far away as Lesotho to help bring peace to northern Mozambique.
The success of these partnerships is prompting efforts to expand them. The African Union and some of the continent’s regional economic communities are studying ways that air transport sharing mechanisms could make airlift available wherever it is needed. Other proposals call for nations to pool resources to buy aircraft that can be jointly owned, operated and deployed when needed.
Regional efforts can go even further with the establishment of academies to train pilots and logistics personnel. Increased intelligence sharing can help nations develop a better picture of threats that cross borders. Continental efforts such as the African Air Chiefs Symposium allow leaders to exchange ideas and develop solutions to continental challenges.
No military alone has the means to respond to the complex security challenges on the continent. By partnering to use air power effectively and efficiently, air forces can have a greater impact and restore security to some of the continent’s most troubled regions.