This is our second in a series of posts looking at AFRICOM’s component commands. Component commands are one part of a joint command like AFRICOM, which draws from all services and military specialties. Yesterday we introduced you to U.S. Army Africa (USARAF). Today we look at U.S. Air Forces Africa (also known as AFAFRICA or 17th Air Force), which serves as the air and space component to U.S. Africa Command.
History U.S. Air Forces Africa was originally stood up in Morocco on April 25, 1953, as Headquarters, 17th Air Force, and was responsible for diverse geographical area ranging from North Africa to the Middle East, India and Austria. 17th Air Force moved to Libya for a brief time and was then relocated to Germany in 1972. It was inactivated in 1996 as part of the drawdown of U.S. forces in Europe. Twelve years later, the command circled back to its roots when it was re-established at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to support the newly formed U.S. Africa Command.
Location AFAFRICA is based at Ramstein, with a forward operating location at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.
Staff About 60 personnel are assigned to U.S. Air Forces Africa. However, later this month 17th Air Force will be inactivated and U.S. Air Forces Africa will be co-located with U.S. Air Forces Europe, meaning those numbers will be absorbed into USAFE.
Mission The AFAFRICA mission includes strategy and plans, command and control capabilities and military-to-military relationships with our African partners. Personnel in Djibouti provide search and rescue capabilities for Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa. AFAFRICA is also called upon for humanitarian missions. For example, in October 2011, the command assisted in the transport of a small number of injured Libyan fighters to Europe and the United States for treatment.
Military-to-military events AFAFRICA recently completed the first ever Africa Partnership Flight. The event brought together service members from the U.S., Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Senegal for two weeks in Accra, Ghana. They shared skills and conducted training in loadmaster operations, search and rescue and aircraft maintenance.
Leadership Major General Margaret Woodward is commander of U.S. Air Forces Africa. The command chief master sergeant is Chief Master Sergeant Michael J. Grimm. You can read their bios here.
Interested in learning more?