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The 786th Air Expeditionary Squadron this week is wrapping up a 13-day mission in Africa to transport Rwandan troops and supplies into and out of Darfur.

The 50-man unit includes airmen from the 86th Contingency Response Group at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and two aircrews from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.

Based at Kigali International Airport in the capital city, the squadron has assisted the African Union in seven peacekeeping missions to the war-torn region in western Sudan since 2004.

This time around, the squadron and its C-17 rotated 2,200 Rwandan troops.

“We’ve got a small team of people who can do a lot,” said Capt. Erin Dorrance, spokeswoman for the 786th.

When they’re not working, the airmen enjoy interacting with the locals in Kigali — a city bustling with tourists, many who are there to see the silverback mountain gorillas, she said.

The Air Force has worked closely with the U.S. Embassy to coordinate the missions with the Rwandan government, Dorrance said.

Once the new U.S. Africa Command is established, it will oversee such operations.

Though it’s been wrought in conflict since 2003, Darfur likely won’t be high on the priority list for AFRICOM, now based in Stuttgart, Germany, said spokesman Vince Crawley.

“The idea is to build long-term solutions [in Africa] to prevent future Darfurs,” he said.

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