Air Force Team Deploys to Prepare for Sudan Airlift Mission
American Forces Press Service
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany, Oct. 21, 2004 About 30 U.S. Air Force members from U.S. European Command arrived in Kigali, Rwanda, today to begin preparations to support a two-week airlift mission of Rwandan peacekeepers as part of the African Union expanded mission in the Darfur region of Sudan.
Air Force Capt. Brian Gilpatrick and 1st Lt. Nils Hallberg,
351st Air Refueling Squadron, 100th Air Refueling Wing, Royal Air Force Station
Mildenhall, England, prepare for takeoff in a KC-135R Stratotanker. About 30
U.S. Air Forces in Europe members left for Kigali, Rwanda Oct. 21 to begin
preparations for the arrival of two U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft and about 120
airmen to support the deployment of African Union forces to the Darfur region
of Sudan. Photo by Airman 1st Class Franklin J. Perkins, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Two U.S. Air Forces in Europe C-130 Hercules transport aircraft and about 120 airmen from Ramstein's 86th Airlift Wing and 435th Air Base Wing are expected to arrive in Kigali to begin the airlift in the next several days.
Members of this advance team represent various specialties such as logistics, contracting, airfield management, security forces, communications and other functions necessary to facilitate the airlift operation. The majority of team members deployed from Mildenhall, England, and from Ramstein.
The arrival of the USAFE advance team coincides with an Oct. 20 decision by the African Union Peace and Security Council to expand the security force for monitors by sending additional African peacekeepers to the Darfur region.
"This is an extremely important mission, and as members of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. military, we're looking forward to supporting the AU in its effort to mitigate the humanitarian crisis that's taking place in the Darfur region," said Col. Robert Baine, the deployed U.S. commander for this mission. "My advance team and I will put together a platform of operations so that when the C-130s arrive, we're ready to hit the ground running."
On Oct. 18, the president directed the secretary of defense to make the two U.S. military aircraft available for two weeks to support a portion of the deployment of the expanded AU mission in Sudan. According to a statement from the White House, the United States is working with other international partners -- including Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the European Union -- to support the AU expansion of the mission to about 3,500 personnel.
(Courtesy of U.S. Air Forces in Europe.)