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Air Force Fliers Continue Afghan Food Drop Operations

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2001 – Imagine huge, four-engine American military jets streaking over the embattled skies of Afghanistan ... dropping a payload of food instead of bombs.

Since Oct. 7 the Air Force has been pounding Taliban and Al Qaeda airfields, training camps, air defense sites and command-and-control nodes in the war against terrorism, yet American fliers are also helping starving Afghan refugees.

For four nights straight, teams of two Air Force C-17s have airdropped a total of more than 140,000 daily rations for needy Afghan refugees, Air Force Col. Kip Self said today from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Self spoke via a Pentagon teleconference with reporters. He is the director for Mobility Forces in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

When the aircrews return from their humanitarian missions, Self said they appear pumped up with "the adrenalin they have for stepping out there, getting to employ what they've been trained to do for so many years ... they're just excited.

"You throw on top of that the positive aspects of this mission - they couldn't be happier," he added.

The airdrops have been "100-percent on target," Self remarked, noting there are plenty more rations, if needed. "We have enough crews and airplanes in support to continue the mission for as long as it's still a national objective," Self said. There are two million humanitarian daily rations in stock.

"We're ready to press on until somebody turns us off," he said.

Self noted that the anti-terrorist campaign in Afghanistan, like the worldwide war against terrorism, is a multi-faceted effort. "We're obviously part of a larger operation. We're focused on the humanitarian aspect of this," he said. "Our partners handling the combat side are doing a marvelous job, as well.

"There is enough (mission) to go around, and we're staying focused on delivering the food to the right people."

Each C-17 on food delivery runs carries about 10 crewmembers, Self said, including physiological technicians and combat camera crews. The missions, flown at high altitude and at night, are dangerous, he acknowledged.

"The fact that you're flying into a combat zone cannot be ignored," he explained. "But, if you do the right training and planning ahead of time, you mitigate those threats and rely on your professionalism to get you through."

(EDITOR'S NOTE: See www.usafe.af.mil/airdrop/home.html for photos of Afghan humanitarian relief mission.)

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