BATTLE CREEK, Mich. - Two members of the 217th Air Component Operations Squadron traveled to Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria, for over a week in September to assess the airworthiness of foreign aircraft in support of U.S. Air Forces Europe - Air Forces Africa.
Maj. Jacob Stommen and Maj. Craig Warn, 217th ACOS maintenance officers, were part of a three-member team that inspected aircraft and the Nigerian Air Force’s flying and maintenance practices.
“These assessments are important for everyone involved,” said Stommen. “The partner nations are great to work with and eager to show off their practices pertaining to the aircraft. We learn some maintenance practices as well, so it is a two-way street.”
The team inspected a C-130 Hercules, a Falcon 900 and a King Air 350. U.S. Air Force policy requires an airworthiness assessment before U.S. personnel fly on foreign aircraft. Sommen and Warn’s home unit regularly augments USAFE-AFAFRICA, so they were well-suited for the mission.
“It [the mission] builds the all-important relationship between many parties,” said Warn. “We get to work with the State Department, USAFE-AFAFRICA, State Partnership Program, and most importantly, the host nation.”
Stommen and Warn have extensive experience assisting partner nations in Africa, with more than 40 trips to the region combined.
“I love the continent,” said Warn. “Each time I get down there, it brings new opportunities and partnerships as we represent the Air Force, AFRICOM, USAFE-AFAFRICA, and the state of Michigan.”
The Michigan National Guard has an expanding impact on the region, partnering with Liberia through the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program. A large Michigan delegation recently visited several countries on the continent with its Future Strategic Leaders Program.