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Air Force Assists in Darfur Troop Movement

By Capt. Erin Dorrance, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

KIGALI, Rwanda, Oct. 23, 2007 – The U.S. Air Force provided airlift support Oct. 20 to 400 Rwandan soldiers who are supporting the African Union peacekeeping mission in the Darfur region of Sudan.

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Rwandan soldiers march onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport on their way to the Darfur region of Sudan, Oct. 20, 2007. Airmen from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., are providing airlift support to the African Union effort in Darfur. Photo by Capt. Erin Dorrance, USAF
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The 786th Air Expeditionary Squadron includes airmen from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, providing expeditionary airfield operations focusing on cargo and personnel movement, and two C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and aircrews from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.

This is the seventh deployment in which airmen have assisted in rotating Rwandan troops in and out of Darfur.

“We are happy to be able to assist the African Union’s efforts in Darfur,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Therrien, 786th AES commander. “My incredible team of professional airmen has been dedicated to this mission since 2004.”

As a Rwandan military band played, soldiers marched with rifles onto the C-17 on their way to Darfur.

“We feel happy to relieve the situation in Darfur,” said Rwandan Lt. Col. Ludovick Mugisha, who noted that his last name means “Good luck” in Kenyar-Rwandan. “My troops are trained and ready to fight.”

The band once again played in the afternoon, as the C-17s returned with Rwandan soldiers coming home after their eight-month deployment in Darfur.

“I am very happy to see my family and enjoy my country,” said Rwandan Lt. Népo Mulindabyuma, who was returning home to his wife and three children.

The returning soldiers were dismissed only after the Rwandan Chief of General Staff Gen. James Kabarebe thanked them for their service and participated in a celebratory traditional dance with his soldiers.

The 786th AES will continue to support the multi-day mission based out of the Kigali International Airport in Rwanda. They expect to assist in transporting about 2,200 Rwandan troops and heavy equipment into and out of the Darfur region.

(Air Force Capt. Erin Dorrance is assigned to 786th Air Expeditionary Squadron Public Affairs.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageRwandan soldiers celebrate with a traditional song after returning from their eight-month deployment in the Darfur region of Sudan, Oct. 20, 2007. Airmen from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., are providing airlift support to the African Union effort in Darfur. Photo by Capt. Erin Dorrance, USAF   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA Rwandan military band performs Oct. 20, 2007, at the Kiglai International Airport, Rwanda, for Rwandan soldiers returning home in a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport after an eight-month deployment to the Darfur region of Sudan. Airmen from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., are providing airlift support to the African Union effort in Darfur. Photo by Capt. Erin Dorrance, USAF   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAerial port personnel from the 86th Air Mobility Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, assemble pallets Oct. 20, 2007, at the Kigali International Airport, Rwanda, for Rwandan soldiers deploying to the Darfur region of Sudan. U.S. Air Force airmen are providing airlift support to the African Union effort in Darfur. Photo by Capt. Erin Dorrance, USAF  
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