On 2/10/2010 10:25:46 AM Major Paula Kurtz, 17th Air Force wrote
It’s always a great feeling when weeks, sometimes months, of work finally culminates and a mission launches successfully. Today I’m sitting on a C-130J — the newest model in our USAF inventory — headed to Morocco for the Aeroexpo Marrakech 2010, an international trade show that will be held Jan. 27-30 to highlight the capabilities of the international aerospace industry for a mostly African audience.
This is only the second annual installment of the tradeshow, but it is expected to be sizable, with more than 50.000 visitors from more than 30 African nations attending. As the newly formed air component under U.S. Africa Command, my unit, 17th Air Force/U.S. Air Forces Africa, is the lead agency for organizing DoD participation in this air-centric event. Discussion and coordination regarding our participation began in September, and while it’s exciting to be on the execution portion of the mission, I think a greater sense of accomplishment comes from being involved in all that came before.
Meetings, conference calls, briefings, discussions, research…much time, effort, staff work, and not a few late nights, have resulted in this mission of which this C-130J — carrying aircrew, logisticians, communications, maintenance members and security forces– is but a piece. When we land in Morocco later today, we’ll be soon followed by two F-16s from the 169th Fighter Wing, South Carolina Air National Guard, and a KC-135 from the 151st Air Refueling Wing, Utah Air National Guard. Over the next several days, senior military leaders from the U.S. will arrive, bringing the total number of U.S. participants to more than 50 from 8 locations around the world.
While Aeroexpo Marrakech may not be comparable to the Paris or Dubai tradeshows in size or scale, it more than makes up for those measurements in its potential for great effect. Every day in Africa we are strengthening existing partnerships and forging new ones. What better way to stimulate discussion and dialogue between airmen of different nations than over a shiny, sleek piece of equipment. Why, who knows? That might just lead to a great new collaborative and cooperative partnership.