RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- About 30 U.S. Air Force members from U.S. European Command arrived in Kigali, Rwanda, Oct. 21 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 U.S. Air Forces in Europe C-130 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 U.S Air Force 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 bases at RAF Mildenhall, England; and Ramstein.
The arrival of the USAFE advance team coincides with a decision Oct. 20 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 advanced 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."
The U.S. president directed the U.S. secretary of defense Oct. 18 to make the two military aircraft available for two weeks to support a portion of the deployment of the expanded AU mission in Sudan. A statement from the White House stated, the U.S. 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.