Ramstein airmen helping airlift Rwandan soldiers into Darfur
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A small contingent of airmen from Ramstein Air Base are in Rwanda helping transport peacekeeping troops to the Darfur region.
About 15 airmen from the base’s 86th Contingency Response Group arrived in the Rwanda capital of Kigali last weekend, said Capt. Joel Harper, an Air Force spokesman at Ramstein.
They are doing logistics and support duties, including manifesting passengers and coordinating airlift of cargo.
“The Rwandan defense forces are a very motivated group, very professional group,” Harper said. “But they have a very limited airlift capability. So, our folks are proud to help out and to bring help to the people of Darfur.”
The U.S. Air Force conducted similar airlift missions in 2004 and 2005, but this time the military contracted out planes instead of using American C-130s, Harper said. About 150 airmen deployed to Rwanda last September to transport African Union peacekeeping troops.
This month, airmen will help airlift 1,200 troops from two Rwandan battalions and their personal equipment from Kigali International Airport to the Darfur region, according to a U.S. European Command press release. An equal number is expected to rotate back to their home country.
The U.S. Air Force’s portion of the mission is expected to last about three weeks, according to the press release.
African peacekeepers are part of a mission to provide security and humanitarian assistance to a region crippled by violence. Since 2003, rebels and government military forces and government-backed militias have been involved in fighting.