Mission Of Mercy
About 30 US Air Force members from US European Command arrived
in Kigali, Rwanda, Thursday 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.
Two US 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
US Air Force and US 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 US 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 US 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.