JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Members of the 621st Contingency Response Wing and U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa recently returned from an engagement with their Senegalese air force counterparts May 20-24, 2013, in Dakar, Senegal.
The engagement provided a forum for Airmen from both nations to share ideas on relief operations, emergency management, public health and crisis communication.
"Members of their (Senegalese air force) leadership expressed interest in our Air Force's response concepts during disasters or other large-scale events," said Lt. Col. Thom Adkins, 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron commander. "All of the participants expressed an avid desire to share and learn from mutual experiences."
Including members from the U.S. Air Force's only contingency response wing was an ideal fit for the disaster relief engagement, said Adkins.
"One of the biggest advantages to our meetings was our joint task force-port opening experience," explained Lt. Col. William Neitzke, 818th MSAS traveling country team lead. "JTF-PO is a rather new concept, which allows response forces to bring in air support and distribute supplies via our ground force partners, linking Air Force and Army capabilities."
During their visit, the U.S. team explained its roles responding to natural disasters in Haiti, Japan, Pakistan and the U.S. Their Senegalese counterparts also shared their own experiences with regional disaster relief efforts. Although flooding, public health, and strategic communication were among the main topics discussed, the importance of joint operations also became a key focus.
"By sharing our challenges we were able to learn much from each other," said Adkins. "Their air force is relatively small, so they rely and work very well with their ground and sea defense forces during any type of response."
The U.S. team members were an embodiment of the Air Force's "building partner capacity" core competency, Neitzke explained.
"Creating and establishing these partnerships, between our Air Force and theirs, allows us to effectively conserve resources in the future if we need to respond together to a disaster or event," said Neitzke. "Discussions like this are critical in developing future interoperability between the two nations and the surrounding region."
Mobility Support Advisory Squadrons execute Air Mobility Command's building partnerships and building partner capacity missions. The 818th MSAS, located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., is aligned with and supports United States Africa Command engagements. The MSAS is a deployable organization that conducts these missions at partner nations' locations, especially where air mobility operational support is a priority.
Mobility Support Advisory Squadron air advisors help achieve goals set forth by the Secretary of Defense's strategic guidance, particularly in "sharing the costs and responsibilities of global leadership" with nations that value "freedom, stability and prosperity."