STUTTGART, Germany -- U.S. Airmen from 635th Material Maintenance Squadron, Holloman Air Force Base, were deployed to N'Djamena on Jan. 7, 2018, to provide assistance to the Chadian Air Force by constructing shelters and maintenance areas for their critical aircraft.
This effort was initiated last summer after a large-scale wind storm July, 1 2017, that destroyed Chadian aircraft and maintenance shelters at the air base in N'Djamena.
"The storm damaged a substantial amount of Chad's aircraft and airfield infrastructure," according to Maj. James Carpenter, deputy chief, Office of Security Cooperation-Chad/Central African Republic. "Chad's Air Force was nearly destroyed, and along with it, all the critical missions it can carry-out in the region. Not very much was spared, and perhaps the most prominent illustration of the force exerted in last year's storm is the damage to the Chadian Presidential Hangar."
At the request of the Chadian government, representatives from U.S. Africa Command traveled to Chad to meet with the U.S. Embassy N'Djamena Office of Security Cooperation and Chadian military leadership to develop a plan to assist the Chadian Air Force.
The 635th MMS worked to erect two Large Area Maintenance Shelters (LAMS) to house some of Chad's aircrafts, to include brand new ISR-equipped Cessna 208B aircraft, which the U.S. provided to the Chadian Air Force in December 2017.
"In order to start construction of the LAMS, the site needed to be cleared of the previously destroyed shelters baseplates and AS350 Helicopters," said Air Force Master Sgt. Jeremie M. Wilson, LAMS Construction Team Chief, 635th MMS. "This system requires about 11 trained personnel to erect this shelter."
French forces on ground also assisted with the project, according to Wilson.
"In a general conversation with some of the French forces, I told them about the equipment I needed in order to maintain the projected timeline. They had a team conducting a ramp construction project and offered to let us use their equipment," Wilson said. "Not only did they let us use their equipment, but they brought the compressor/jackhammer to the site daily. We would not have met this timeline without their support!"
Partnership is important for both the U.S. and Chadian military forces, according to Wilson.
“To partner with the Chadian forces and the government means a great deal," Wilson said. "From the time we stepped off the plane until our last day working on the project alongside the Chadian Forces, we have felt a sense pride in this mission. After (multiple) deployments to several places, this has definitely been one of the most hospitable and rewarding experiences."
The LAMS were requisitioned through the use of the special presidential authorities for foreign assistance.
"The Presidential Drawdown Authority provides assistance via defense articles in response to an international crisis," Carpenter said. "Chad is a focus country for three out of the five AFRICOM Lines of Effort. It is also an important partner in multiple African coalitions that serve to root out violent extremist organizations and other destabilizing elements in the region."
"As Chad's intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capacity grows, so will its capability to defend its borders and promote regional security," he said.
U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Air Forces Africa will continue to provide further assistance to the Chadian Air Force through follow-on security force assistance and building partnership capacity activities.
(Updated Feb. 14, 2018)