Yanek Provides a Different Image of Africa
February 17, 2012

Lieutenant Colonel Bill Yanek, who returned from Africa in early February, says Africa is a big business opportunity for any type of business. Yanek, executive vice president of the Glass Association of North America in Topeka, Kan., returned from a military assignment in Africa.

Members of the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa and 1-161 FA JAG Sections. Bill Yanek is on far right.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarad Denton)

Yanek deployed to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti as part of the Kansas Army National Guard Battalion in June 2011 to support the U.S. AFRICOM mission in the Horn of Africa. A Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer for the Kansas National Guard, Yanek provided military attorney support and went to Rwanda for two weeks to train the Rwandan army.

"The negative aspects of Africa, like poverty, are often highlighted in the news, but there are great things happening there," Yanek says. For instance, "they're building a huge modern convention center in the city of Kigali [capital of Rwanda]. The city is clean, safe and there's construction going on everywhere. They want Kigali to be a destination for meetings and conventions."

Yanek says he went to Rwanda as one of two military mentors in support of a state department African contingency operation training assistance mission. His mission involved mentoring a battalion-level staff planning exercise, which prepared the unit to deploy to Darfur in mid-2012 for a peacekeeping mission. "The staff acumen of the Rwandan military is impressive," he says. "Rwanda is a country on a mission to continually improve its military and become a leader in East African affairs."

The African mission provided Yanek the opportunity to experience life in a developing country and "it was fascinating to see a state-level unit accomplishing so much on the international stage," he says. "I also gained first-hand experience of how the various branches of the military all work together-the army, navy, air force, marines and the special forces-to attain similar goals."

This story is an original story by USGlass magazine/USGNN™. Subscribe to USGlass magazine.
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