Pathfinder Airmen learn about AFRICOM mission

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Zima
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

The 501st Combat Support Wing Readiness Working Group partnered with the Joint Intelligence Command - U.S. Africa Command to familiarize Wing Airmen with the joint intelligence mission and AFRICOM at RAF Molesworth, England, April 5, 2023.

The Working Group is made up of 30 Airmen from 14 different specialties across five bases. The team is charged with strengthening combat readiness by developing their understanding of the diverse missions integrated into the wing.

“The main purpose of the AFRICOM brief is for our Airmen to better understand the wing's mission and how we support our joint and international partners,” said Master Sgt. Jonathan Gasparetto, 423d Force Support Squadron senior enlisted leader. “The 501st is so dynamic and supports different mission sets and multiple combatant commands. We want our personnel at all levels to hear firsthand about the intelligence mission they support and how critical they are to our nation's security. Receiving these types of briefs not only helps our Airmen gain an appreciation for what they do but it also motivates them. Sometimes it can be tough for Airmen to understand the mission they support. By educating our Airmen, they continue to build a combat readiness mindset.”

AFRICOM employs a broad-reaching diplomacy, development, and defense approach to foster interagency efforts and reduce drivers of conflict and extremism in Africa. AFRICOM is responsible for all U.S. Department of Defense operations, exercises, and security cooperation on the African continent, its island nations, and surrounding waters. The area of responsibility consists of 53 African states, more than 800 ethnic groups, over 1,000 languages, vast natural resources, a land mass of 11.2 million square miles (three-and-a-half times the size of the U.S.), and nearly 19,000 miles of coastland.

Thomas "Tony" Gendron, JICAF operations officer and program manager, and U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mike Wurzer, JICAF noncommissioned officer in charge of operations, led the brief at Molesworth.

“JICAF's Commander, U.S. Army Col. T.J. Fearnow, and Senior Enlisted Leader, U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Scott Leach, hope to eliminate some of the mystery about what goes on in the buildings on RAF Molesworth and allow the installation workforce to gain an appreciation for the intelligence work occurring on RAF Molesworth and the critical partnership with our U.S. Air Force installation colleagues in ensuring the mission goes on every day,” said Gendron. “Our military, civilian and contractor workforce lives and works in the communities with you every day. We rely on the support of the U.S. Air Force installation and could not do our jobs without the incredible support provided by the 423d ABG and the subordinate squadrons, DODEA, AAFES and DECA, thank you for all you do. Your critical work enables us at JICAF to perform our mission.”

Pathfinder Airmen left the building with a greater understanding of the critical mission that takes place at AFRICOM.

“Being able to visit the facility and hear from the leadership of the units at Molesworth helped me gain a better understanding of why we are here and why what we do is important,” said Airman 1st Class Matthew Franciscus, 501st Combat Support Wing financial operations technician. “The briefers certainly did a good job emphasizing the diversity and complex political situation of the area. I would just like to thank the people over at AFRICOM who put this briefing together. It was definitely a good experience and I'm glad I had the opportunity to attend.”

According to Gasparetto, the goal for the future of the 501st CSW Readiness Working Group is to continuously develop combat ready Airmen that are skilled and have the mindset to execute combat operations while gaining an increased competence to take on greater mission sets.

 “Our main goal is to develop the Airmen we need for 2030,” said Gasparetto.