The Tyranny of Distance in Africa

Pacific Air Forces “doesn’t have the lock on the tyranny of distance,” said Lt. Gen. Tom Jones, vice commander of US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa. Instead of being defined by water, USAFE-AFAFRICA’s tyranny of distance is defined by the continent of Africa, Jones told Air Force Magazine during an interview at Ramstein AB, Germany. “As airmen, we’re victims of our own success because we’ve been able to respond to requests for airpower almost instantaneously,” said Jones. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get airpower down into the interior of Africa. “That’s almost two United States’ worth to get down to the southern-central part of Africa. Two and a half to get down to Libya and down to South Africa itself,” he said. “That’s not going to happen in a matter of minutes or hours, and it’s not going to happen without some kind of refueling assistance,” he added. The “lack of understanding of the geographic tyranny of distance adds to the problems” USAFE-AFAFRICA officials face as they debate the appropriate basing and manning levels in the Europe-African theater, said Jones. “The solution is not as easy as one might think,” he said during the mid-June interview.