by Capt. Christine Guthrie
U.S. Air Forces in Europe and U.S. Air Forces Africa
1/20/2014 - KIGALI, Rwanda -- Two
U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft operating at the request
of the French government and African Union authorities continued
airlifting a Rwandan mechanized battalion Jan. 19.
The joint operation with personnel from the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force
is in support of an African Union effort to confront destabilizing
forces and violence within Central African Republic.
"The African Union has decided to stand up a mission in the Central
African Republic to decrease the violence that has been occurring over
the last several months," Lt. Col. Allen Pepper, senior officer in
Central African Republic, U.S. Army Africa said. "A part of that is
getting enough troops on the ground to execute that mission."
Each airlift mission stages out of Entebbe, Uganda and consists of
transporting soldiers and equipment from Kigali, Rwanda to Bangui,
Central Africa Republic.
Maj. Micah Vander Veen Contingency Response Element Commander, and
overall mission commander for the Entebbe stage said, "Our goal is to
provide logistical and airlift support to the Rwandan military in order
to support their overall mission."
In Kigali, forces from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, 435th
Contingency Response Group, U.S. Army Africa and Rwandan mechanized
battalion work together to prepare equipment to be loaded onto the C-17
aircraft. Personnel build pallets containing security equipment, clear
weapons and create load plans.
"What the Rwandans are doing in Central Africa is very important, they
are preventing mass atrocities and helping to stabilize the Central
African Republic," said Lt. Col. David Hernandez, Mission Coordination
Cell Rwanda officer in charge. "For this reason, the support we are
providing to them is important."
The joint U.S. military contingent is expected to transport about 850
Rwandan soldiers and more than 1,000 tons of equipment in total over the
next few weeks.
This is the second such operation in support of the African Union's
efforts to stabilize Central African Republic. The first occurred late
last year when the U.S. Air Force transported Burundi soldiers.
Although the situation is stabilizing in Bangui, additional forces are needed to reinforce the progress being made.
"The most rewarding part of this mission is seeing the quality troops
that come off these planes" Pepper said. "They come off [the aircraft]
and are ready and eager to go and do their mission. Without these kinds
of folks on the ground, this mission could never be completed."