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U.S. Moves Rwandan Civilian Police to War-Torn Darfur

American Forces Press Service

STUTTGART-VAIHINGEN, Germany, Aug. 8, 2005 – A U.S.-contracted commercial aircraft moved 49 Rwandan civilian police officers from Kigali, Rwanda, to El Fashir airfield in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan Aug. 7.

The move was in response to a request by the African Union to NATO. The movement of civilian police and AU peace monitors is part of an effort that began July 14, when 150 U.S. Air Force personnel from Germany and England deployed to provide logistical and airlift support of Rwandan forces as part of the African Union's expanded mission in Sudan, or AMIS II. The AU plans to increase its presence in the region to more than 7,700 personnel by September.

NATO officials notified the U.S. by of the AU's desire to move the civilian officers on Aug. 5, Air Force Brig. Gen. Richard Mills, deputy director of the U.S. European Command Plans and Operations Center here, said.

"The AU wanted to move the civilian police into theater as quickly as possible," Mills said. "Once we were notified, a plan went into action to rapidly transport them, space available, in conjunction with the ongoing deployment of the second Rwandan military battalion."

As part of a larger NATO effort, the U.S. is airlifting three battalions of Rwandan troops to Darfur by mid September. Movement of the first battalion's 680 troops and 14,500 pounds of cargo began July 17 and was completed July 27 by U.S. Air Force C-17 and C-130 aircraft. The C-130s also returned 190 previously deployed Rwandan troops from El Fashir back to Kigali. Those U.S. aircraft and personnel have returned to home station.

Two additional Rwandan battalions, of approximately 540 soldiers each, are being flown via U.S. contracted commercial airlift. Movement of the second battalion commenced on Aug 2 and finished Aug. 7. Planners at EUCOM anticipate the third Rwandan battalion will be flown to El Fashir around Sept. 10-19. A small number of U.S. military remain in Kigali to support the contracted movements.

President Bush on July 15 authorized an additional $6 million in emergency spending for the Defense Department to support the transportation of African Union forces to Darfur to help improve security and enable humanitarian assistance to relieve suffering to those displaced by conflict in the region.

(From a U.S. European Command news release.)

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