“My job is to oversee the country cooperation plans, program for Security Force Assistance, coordinate regional exercises, and liaison with the country teams that include ambassadors, defense attachés, and offices of security cooperation,” said Stokes. “As one of the United States Combatant Commands, AFRICOM is charged to: ‘Deter and Defeat Transnational Threats, Build Defense Capabilities, and Respond to Crisis across the African Continent.’”
A Duluth native, Stokes was the wing commander of the 148th Fighter Wing from 2009 to 2015 before heading to the National Guard Bureau in Arlington where he was Chief, Current Operations Division for the National Guard Bureau Joint Staff where he earned the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.
“There I was responsible to monitor, report, and coordinate all National Guard domestic operations across the 54 states and territories, and the District of Columbia,” said Stokes. “My Division monitored state emergencies, natural disasters, exercises, and emergencies.”
He describes his positions leading up to his current role at U.S. AFRICOM as formative and instrumental in preparing him for his current challenges.
“My past career serving the active duty Air Force, Minnesota National Guard, and 148th Fighter Wing prepared me well for these positions,” said Stokes. “My relationship with the Minnesota Joint Force Headquarters helped develop an understanding of joint (Army and Air Force) operations. Service as a Wing Commander and Chair of the F-16 Weapons System Council taught me how to coordinate and liaise with our national level organizations and drove many trips to Washington DC. That experience gave insight into how our Department of Defense service organizations function and the objectives of or civilian and military leaders.”
Stokes’ tour at U.S. AFRICOM is a two-year assignment, with his next appointment yet to be determined.
“I will serve my best while at U.S. AFRICOM for the next couple years,” said Stokes. “Not certain what my next assignment will be, but I look forward to continue to serve our nation.”