First Impression: U.S. Air Force Meets Djibouti Air ForceBy Staff Sergeant Kat McDowellCombined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Public Affairs OfficeDJIBOUTI (Oct. 6, 2010) Leadership of the 449th Air Expeditionary Group, attached to Combined JointTask Force-Horn of Africa, met with members of the Djiboutian Air Force for breakfast to exchange ideason aircraft maintenance Sept. 22. This is the first military-to-military interaction between themaintenance crews of the two nations air forces.We talked about how we maintain aircraft in unfriendly conditions, said Chief Master Sgt. RandallBecker, 81st Expeditionary Rescue Squadron maintenance superintendant. At our home base we areright on the water just like they are. Fighting corrosion is a huge part of our job.Becker and his maintenance crew are deployed from the 920th Rescue Wing of Patrick Air Force Base,Fla., an installation built on a barrier island of the states Atlantic coastline. With the Djibouti-AmbouliAirport runway ending just shy of the Gulf of Aden, the humid sea air would have the same corrosiveeffects on aircraft as their U.S. counterparts.During the course of the meal, it was mentioned that when a major wind storm passed through Djiboutiin mid-August, an aircraft hanger collapsed, taking off a door of one of their Eurocopter Twin Squirrelaircraft. A hinge bracket holding the door on was bent, shearing the rivets that held the door in place.The helicopter had been grounded ever since.The Djiboutian maintenance team had only two tool boxes and no rivets.What would be a small hurdle for us was a show stopper for them, said Becker.It was agreed that Staff Sgt. Ely Thomas, aircraft structural maintenance craftsman, and Tech. Sgt.Noberto Nieves, aerospace maintenance craftsman, would go to the airport the following week withnew rivets to reform the bracket and reattach the door.The Djiboutians walked us around the hanger, pointing at things and sharing information with us abouttheir aircraft, said Thomas.Though there was a communication barrier, as French is the official language of Djibouti, it didntprevent either party from being less attentive to the other.They were very enthusiastic that we came over and helped them, said Thomas. They were watchinghow I did the riveting and taking in our maintenance processes.With the door now in place, all other parts en route to the Djibouti team can be used to completerepairs.