American Airmen Pick Up Skills from African Counterparts

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Public Affairs
U.S. Airmen deployed to west African are learning new skills and techniques, thanks to their interaction with soldiers from Ghana.

The 127th Civil Engineering Squadron, Michigan Air National Guard, deployed to Accra, the capital city of Ghana in West Africa for two weeks in April to work with the Ghana military and the North Dakota Air National Guard to perform a major rehabilitation of a building at the Ghana Air Force's School of Technical Training.

"This has been an excellent training environment for our people," said Chief Master Sgt. Greg Robinson, the senior enlisted Airman who made the trip to Africa. "Particularly for our masons, who have had to learn how to work in a totally different environment from what we are used to back home."

Of particular challenge for the masons who were working on the project, which including bricking in several windows and doors on the existing frame of a cement building, was working in the high heat and humidity of Africa's "Gold Coast." In the local environment, the normal ratios used to make mortar for brick work didn't work.

"We were constantly adjusting how much water we needed to add, how wet we needed to make the mortar to work with it," said Senior Airman Keith Perkins, a member of the 127th CES on the trip.

"And we had to adjust as the day went on and it kept getting hotter. The Ghanian soldiers taught us their methods so we could keep working," said Perkins.

Robinson said Perkins and Staff Sgt. Jason Earad, another mason on the project, also learned new techniques for applying mortar not normally used in the U.S.

"The Ghana soldiers we have been working with are very sharp. I think there has been a good level of interaction at the job site between our people and the locals," Robinson said.

Robinson said that learning to work in adverse conditions will serve the 127th CES Airmen well the next time it is called to forward deploy to Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere.
The 127th CES deployed for two weeks in April to Ghana to work on two building sites in conjunction with the military of Ghana. At the end of their two weeks in Africa, the Michigan Airmen will be relieved on the job site by a team from the North Dakota Air National Guard, who will finish the projects.

North Dakota recently became partners with Ghana in the National Guard's State Partnership Program, in which U.S. state National Guards partner with the militaries of emerging nations. Michigan recently became partners with Liberia, which borders Ghana in west Africa. Michigan has also been partners with Latvia for more than a decade.