U.S. Military Supports South African Trade Show
By Staff Sgt. John Gassler, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service
WATERKLOOF AIR FORCE BASE, South Africa, Sept. 24, 2004 U.S. military equipment and personnel from the New York Air National Guard will kick off the Aerospace Exhibition, at Waterkloof Air Force Base, in Pretoria, South Africa, on Sept. 25.
Crowds attending the South Africa Aerospace Exhibition view
a KC-135R Stratotanker deployed from the 107th Air Refueling Wing, Niagara
Falls, New York. Aircrews and support personnel from the N.Y. Air National
Guard aircraft have C-5, F-16, HH-60 and KC-135 aircraft on static display at
Waterkloof Air Force Base, Pretoria, South Africa. Photo by Staff Sgt. Matt
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The event marks the first time airframes and guardsmen from New York have participated in a South African air show, officials said.
Visitors will get a close-up look at four static displays, a C-5 Galaxy, KC-135 Stratotanker, HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter and F-16A Fighting Falcon.
Aircrew and support personnel from bases in Europe and New York are providing maintenance, security, public affairs and administrative support for the event.
The New York Guard has a special relationship with South Africa via the State Partnership Program, a U.S. reserve-component initiative that aligns U.S.-based Guard and Reserve units with militaries of other nations to enhance professional relationships and mutual understanding. The New York Guard-South Africa relationship began in August of 2003 with senior-leadership discussions and exchanges in Pretoria.
Many countries in Central and Eastern Europe have partnerships with U.S. Guard units, and the U.S. European Command is expanding the program. The South Africa-New York partnership is one of the first in Africa. There are 37 such partnerships throughout the combatant commands.
"The South Africa Aerospace Exhibition is a unique opportunity for the United States and U.S. National Guard units to partner with other nations' military forces. In turn, the relationship enhances defense relationships, cooperation and interoperability," said Col. Michael Canders, acting representative for the New York State Adjutant General.
Since the beginning of the New York-South Africa relationship, several bilateral engagements have taken place. In December 2003, South African National Defense Forces participated in familiarization exchanges with the 109th Airlift Wing and 106th Rescue Wing. South African air force personnel were introduced to U.S Air Force operations and procedures on the C-130 Hercules, which South Africa also flies, and HH-60 helicopter in-flight refueling and rescue operations.
In May 2004, New York Guard members participated in Environmental Security Working Group discussions in Cape Town, South Africa. In July, 30 N.Y. Guard members participated for the first time in the annual U.S. European Command exercise MEDFLAG 2004.
(Air Force Staff Sgt. John Gassler is assigned to the Public Affairs Office of the N.Y. Air National Guard.)