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A catalyst for change: Ghana Air Force Lt. Col. provides international perspective on military aviation

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Natalie Fiorilli
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Lt. Col. Margaert Kumaka doesn’t think much about being the only woman in a room.

For the past two weeks, she has been the sole international female participant attending this year’s Building Partner Aviation Capacity Seminar at Hurlburt Field, Florida. Similarly, Kumaka is one of only a handful of women serving at her rank in the Ghana Air Force.

“It doesn’t occur to me because you are doing your work, and you have to perform,” said Kumaka. “So, my focus is on performance, not male-female anything. I don’t consider it to be special.”

Born in Ghana’s capital, Accra, Kumaka says she was raised around the military as her father served as an engineer in the Air Force.

After attending university in the Ashanti region of Ghana, where she studied economics and English literature, Kumaka began working as a customer care assistant. Realizing the work didn’t quite suit her, she decided to apply to become an officer in the Ghana Air Force.

At the time there weren’t many females in her nation’s military, however, Kumaka said the military is now recruiting more women.

“Gradually, people are opening up to the idea of women in the service,” she said. “Gender mainstreaming has created awareness about women in the world, and people are focusing on it.”

Sixteen years into her Air Force career, Kumaka serves as a commander overseeing the supply wing of Ghana Air Force Base Accra in Burma Camp.

At the helm of the base’s supply wing, she manages procuring and storing equipment and ensuring quality control of their inventory.

As a participant in this year’s BPACS, hosted by the 492 Special Operations Wing’s U.S. Air Force Special Operations School, Kumaka is networking with international and U.S. military aviation officials, spanning five continents.

BPACS brings together international military aviation professionals with U.S. service members and civil servants to discuss the core attributes of the aviation enterprise as they relate to the national defense strategy.

The BPACS curriculum includes national security aviation topics, selected as part of the program’s overall goals of building mutual respect, facilitating regional consultative mechanisms and deepening Special Operations Forces aviation interoperability in a contested and unfamiliar battlespace.

For Kumaka, the experience has been an “eye-opener,” as she has noticed several differences in the way Air Forces around the world operate.

Specifically, she said she plans to explore the possibility of providing more education and retirement benefits for service members in Ghana, similar to the benefits offered to the U.S. military.

Additionally, Kumaka mentioned that with terrorist activity in the regions surrounding Ghana, the need for efficient and effective military aviation, logistics and supply systems is crucial.

“We need to be ready when the need arises.”

Likewise, she emphasized the importance of international collaboration, adding that BPACS has helped her build lasting partnerships.

“A lifelong relationship has been established.”