DOUALA, Cameroon -- Eight U.S. Air Force members of the 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron recently deployed to Cameroon to take part in Central Accord 13, February 20 - March 1.
The mission of the 621st Contingency Response Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.-based air advisors took them to the country's economic capital, where they participated in the 10-day joint aerial supply and medical readiness exercise. The exercise was aimed at enhancing the Cameroon military and other neighboring Central African partner countries' logistical and resupplies capabilities. The air advisors' core function was to extend Air Mobility Command's building partnership capacity mission, by promoting regional stability, fostering key relationships, and enhancing partner nation capabilities. One of those capabilities included the Cameroon air force opening the aircraft ramp and door during flight to conduct an aerial delivery for the first time, during CA13's field training exercise. "I had my reservations at first, but after watching our partners in action I have nothing but the utmost trust in their abilities," said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Tippy, 818th MSAS loadmaster air advisor. "They are truly professional Airmen ... good at what they do." Tippy, a C-130 loadmaster for more than five years with more than1,000 flying hours, flew alongside his partner nation counterparts as a loadmaster safety observer. That task gave him the opportunity to witness Cameroon Air Force aircrew members perform the country's first C-130 aerial delivery.
"I think part of why things went so well is because of the camaraderie that I've built with my partner nation loadmasters," said Tippy. "During classroom discussions and hands-on applications we shared a lot of knowledge with each other, which proved beneficial to us both." Maj. Timothy Feltis, 818th MSAS mission commander, shared some of the same sentiments regarding the importance of collaboration and the proficiency of the partner nation air crews. "Our partner nation counterparts have shown they are very good aviators," said Feltis. "They've successfully flown an extremely complex mission in a short period of time, considering the route and challenging drop zone." Feltis added that through the sharing of ideas, the Cameroonians demonstrated an ability which typically takes aircrews several weeks to learn. "Truly a testament to their professionalism." From an observation area near the drop zone, ground crews watched as low-cost, low-altitude bundles sailed from the Cameroon Air Force C-130, hitting their mark on time and on target. "This joint exercise has improved our capacity to carry out missions as regards to air delivery and air supply, when it comes to humanitarian missions, air evac, casevac, and medevac," said Cameroon air force Lt. Col. Colince Ondoua, chief of planning. "With our crews now able to use the ramp and door during flight, it's a more efficient use of our C130's to conduct air drops." Ondoua expressed the relationships built during exercises like Central Accord are crucial to a secure and stable region. "Our partnerships are important because if a humanitarian or security crisis occurs in the future, we are better prepared to work together," added Ondoua.
Central Accord is a U.S. Army Africa annually sponsored exercise that brings together U.S. military personnel with counterparts from militaries throughout the African continent to enhance military interoperability, providing an opportunity for sharing of common goals and foster security cooperation. This year's exercise allowed the U.S. to partner with participants from Cameroon, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of São Tomé ePrincipe and Gabonese Republic.