204th hosts’ AFRICOM theater course
By 204th Intelligence Squadron, 108th Wing
/ Published August 02, 2014
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Africa, continent of mystery, became a little less mysterious for 67 intelligence analysts, instructors and civil affairs personnel from the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst community. The U.S. Air Force Special Operations School presented a week-long course covering political, military, religious and social affairs in Africa.
The 204th Intelligence Squadron, Air Mobility Command's source for a variety of intelligence products encompassing every region of the world, hosted the informative course. Course participants learned the importance of Africa's diversity and there is no "African" mindset. Religions, attitudes and loyalties vary wildly between and even within countries.
"The USAFSOS staff learned as much, if not more, from interacting with the students," said Capt. Caleb Slayton, leader of the mobile training team. "USAFSOS is privileged to be in a rare position, acting as a central repository for, in this case, all Africa deploying unit observations. The JB-MDL classroom was a great mix between Air Force active duty, Guard and Reserve, as well as interagency and multi-service personnel. That creates a good environment for cross-talk and sharing experiences. USAFSOS takes what it learns in one classroom and is able to share and pass it on to the next deploying unit or member. "
Slayton, along with fellow instructors, Airman 1st Class Moses Chelimo and Mr. Hadi Tabit, were able to highlight the similarities and differences in African regions and cultures. All were able to draw on extensive experience living in Africa to paint a vivid mosaic of what the continent is today, and where it is headed in the future.
"It is imperative that 204th analysts have the best available training in order to produce intelligence products that are timely, relevant and accurate, said Chief Master Sgt. Stephen Zinner. "Rather than send three members temporary duty to Hurlburt Field, Florida, we were able to fund travel for the USAFSOS instructors, allowing thirty-two squadron analysts to be trained at significant savings."
"We were able to provide additional value by offering excess class seats to other local intelligence organizations," said Lt. Col. Robert Kelly, 204th IS commander. "It is important to make every dollar count, not just in the Air Force, but across the federal government. To that end, we had students from the 204th, other Air Guard units, active duty Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Army Reserve and civilian analysts and instructors from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Air Force Air Advisor Academy. In total, we were able to facilitate savings of over $100,000 without affecting the quality of training."
The 204th plans to host additional training teams at the Joint Base during the next fiscal year. For more information about the 204th training initiative, please contact Chief Master Sgt. Stephen Zinner at firstname.lastname@example.org.