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U.S. Begins Flying Rwandan Peacekeeping Equipment to Darfur
The U.S. Air Force has begun airlifting Rwandan peacekeeping equipment and supplies from Kigali to the Darfur Region of Sudan as part of the United Nations-Africa Union peacekeeping mission. <br /> <br />The first mission was completed January 14,
GISENYI, Rwanda - A delivery of four 200 hp Yamaha outboard engines are offloaded by Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) marines in Gisenyi, Rwanda, January 8, 2009.  The maritime regiment is responsible for search and rescue, protection of government key installations (such as the floating methane gas plant), and countering smuggling and drug trafficking. The Marine Regiment was formed in 1995, in response to Rwanda's genocide, to control the nation's water border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and prevent the infiltration of genocidal forces from the Congo. (U.S. AIr Force Photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet, U.S. Africa Command)
6 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 6: GISENYI, Rwanda - A delivery of four 200 hp Yamaha outboard engines are offloaded by Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) marines in Gisenyi, Rwanda, January 8, 2009. The maritime regiment is responsible for search and rescue, protection of government key installations (such as the floating methane gas plant), and countering smuggling and drug trafficking. The Marine Regiment was formed in 1995, in response to Rwanda's genocide, to control the nation's water border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and prevent the infiltration of genocidal forces from the Congo. (U.S. AIr Force Photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet, U.S. Africa Command) Download full-resolution version
KIGALI, Rwanda - Rwandan Staff Sergeant Albert Kananga Defense Forces measures a water purification system January 13, 2009, in preparation for deployment to Sudan in support of the United Nations, Africa Union peacekeeping mission.  About 150 tons of equipment including heavy recovery vehicles, purification systems, water trailers, tents and spare parts, will be airlifted to Rwandan peacekeepers supporting the United Nations, Africa Union Mission in Darfur by U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft. (Photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet, U.S. Africa Command)
6 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 2 of 6: KIGALI, Rwanda - Rwandan Staff Sergeant Albert Kananga Defense Forces measures a water purification system January 13, 2009, in preparation for deployment to Sudan in support of the United Nations, Africa Union peacekeeping mission. About 150 tons of equipment including heavy recovery vehicles, purification systems, water trailers, tents and spare parts, will be airlifted to Rwandan peacekeepers supporting the United Nations, Africa Union Mission in Darfur by U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft. (Photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet, U.S. Africa Command) Download full-resolution version
KIGALI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Rwanda - Load masters from Travis Air Force Base, California, secure a DAF vehicle and water holding tanks onboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 military cargo aircraft, January 14, 2009. This was the first load of five airlifts to transport Rwandan peacekeeping equipment from Kigali, Rwanda, to Al Fashir, in the Darfur region of Sudan, in support of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).  (Photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet, U.S. Africa Command)
6 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 3 of 6: KIGALI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Rwanda - Load masters from Travis Air Force Base, California, secure a DAF vehicle and water holding tanks onboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 military cargo aircraft, January 14, 2009. This was the first load of five airlifts to transport Rwandan peacekeeping equipment from Kigali, Rwanda, to Al Fashir, in the Darfur region of Sudan, in support of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). (Photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet, U.S. Africa Command) Download full-resolution version
KIGALI, Rwanda - Technical Sergeant Bradley Ferda from the 722nd Expeditionary Airbase Squadron, 17th Air Force, U.S. Africa Command, joins volunteers from the Kigali fire department, and Rwanda Defence Forces soldiers to wash water tanks and other military vehicles in preparation for their deployment to the Darfur region of Sudan as part of the United Nations, Africa Union peacekeeping mission there. The vehicles will be transported by U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes brought from the United States. (Photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet, U.S. Africa Command)
6 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 4 of 6: KIGALI, Rwanda - Technical Sergeant Bradley Ferda from the 722nd Expeditionary Airbase Squadron, 17th Air Force, U.S. Africa Command, joins volunteers from the Kigali fire department, and Rwanda Defence Forces soldiers to wash water tanks and other military vehicles in preparation for their deployment to the Darfur region of Sudan as part of the United Nations, Africa Union peacekeeping mission there. The vehicles will be transported by U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes brought from the United States. (Photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet, U.S. Africa Command) Download full-resolution version
KIGALI, Rwanda - 1st Lieutenant Charles Jones, Headquarters Support Company, Southern European Task Force (SETAF), and approximately 30 soldiers from the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) weigh water-holding tanks, January 11, 2009, in Kigali, Rwanda. The tanks are part of 75 tons of equipment and military vehicles which will be airlifted to the Darfur region of Sudan in support of African Union and United Nations peacekeepers there.   (Photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet, U.S. Africa Command)
6 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 5 of 6: KIGALI, Rwanda - 1st Lieutenant Charles Jones, Headquarters Support Company, Southern European Task Force (SETAF), and approximately 30 soldiers from the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) weigh water-holding tanks, January 11, 2009, in Kigali, Rwanda. The tanks are part of 75 tons of equipment and military vehicles which will be airlifted to the Darfur region of Sudan in support of African Union and United Nations peacekeepers there. (Photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet, U.S. Africa Command) Download full-resolution version
KIGALI, Rwanda - Members of the Rwandan Defense Forces weigh Rwandan heavy recovery vehicles in preparation for their deployment to Sudan in support of the United Nations, Africa Union peacekeeping mission there. Nine of these vehicles, which belong to the Rwandan Defense forces and were donated by the U.S. Government, as well as about 70 additional tons of equipment and material including water purification systems, water trailers, tents and spare parts, will be airlifted to Rwandan peacekeepers supporting the United Nations, Africa Union Mission in Darfur by U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft. (Photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet, US Africa Command)
6 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 6 of 6: KIGALI, Rwanda - Members of the Rwandan Defense Forces weigh Rwandan heavy recovery vehicles in preparation for their deployment to Sudan in support of the United Nations, Africa Union peacekeeping mission there. Nine of these vehicles, which belong to the Rwandan Defense forces and were donated by the U.S. Government, as well as about 70 additional tons of equipment and material including water purification systems, water trailers, tents and spare parts, will be airlifted to Rwandan peacekeepers supporting the United Nations, Africa Union Mission in Darfur by U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft. (Photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet, US Africa Command) Download full-resolution version
GISENYI, Rwanda - A delivery of four 200 hp Yamaha outboard engines are offloaded by Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) marines in Gisenyi, Rwanda, January 8, 2009.  The maritime regiment is responsible for search and rescue, protection of government key installations (such as the floating methane gas plant), and countering smuggling and drug trafficking. The Marine Regiment was formed in 1995, in response to Rwanda's genocide, to control the nation's water border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and prevent the infiltration of genocidal forces from the Congo. (U.S. AIr Force Photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet, U.S. Africa Command)
KIGALI, Rwanda - Rwandan Staff Sergeant Albert Kananga Defense Forces measures a water purification system January 13, 2009, in preparation for deployment to Sudan in support of the United Nations, Africa Union peacekeeping mission.  About 150 tons of equipment including heavy recovery vehicles, purification systems, water trailers, tents and spare parts, will be airlifted to Rwandan peacekeepers supporting the United Nations, Africa Union Mission in Darfur by U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft. (Photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet, U.S. Africa Command)
KIGALI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Rwanda - Load masters from Travis Air Force Base, California, secure a DAF vehicle and water holding tanks onboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 military cargo aircraft, January 14, 2009. This was the first load of five airlifts to transport Rwandan peacekeeping equipment from Kigali, Rwanda, to Al Fashir, in the Darfur region of Sudan, in support of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).  (Photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet, U.S. Africa Command)
KIGALI, Rwanda - Technical Sergeant Bradley Ferda from the 722nd Expeditionary Airbase Squadron, 17th Air Force, U.S. Africa Command, joins volunteers from the Kigali fire department, and Rwanda Defence Forces soldiers to wash water tanks and other military vehicles in preparation for their deployment to the Darfur region of Sudan as part of the United Nations, Africa Union peacekeeping mission there. The vehicles will be transported by U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes brought from the United States. (Photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet, U.S. Africa Command)
KIGALI, Rwanda - 1st Lieutenant Charles Jones, Headquarters Support Company, Southern European Task Force (SETAF), and approximately 30 soldiers from the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) weigh water-holding tanks, January 11, 2009, in Kigali, Rwanda. The tanks are part of 75 tons of equipment and military vehicles which will be airlifted to the Darfur region of Sudan in support of African Union and United Nations peacekeepers there.   (Photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet, U.S. Africa Command)
KIGALI, Rwanda - Members of the Rwandan Defense Forces weigh Rwandan heavy recovery vehicles in preparation for their deployment to Sudan in support of the United Nations, Africa Union peacekeeping mission there. Nine of these vehicles, which belong to the Rwandan Defense forces and were donated by the U.S. Government, as well as about 70 additional tons of equipment and material including water purification systems, water trailers, tents and spare parts, will be airlifted to Rwandan peacekeepers supporting the United Nations, Africa Union Mission in Darfur by U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft. (Photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet, US Africa Command)
The U.S. Air Force has begun airlifting Rwandan peacekeeping equipment and supplies from Kigali to the Darfur Region of Sudan as part of the United Nations-Africa Union peacekeeping mission.

The first mission was completed January 14, 2009, by the "Spirit of The Golden Gate," a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft deployed to Africa from Travis Air Force Base, near Vacaville California. A second mission was also flown the same day by another Travis-based C-17.

The aircraft each carried about 30 tons of materiel. In all, the Air Force will transport more than 150 tons of equipment and supplies including nine oversized vehicles, water purification systems, water trailers, tents and spare parts.

"This equipment is essential to the successful completion of our mission in Darfur," said Major Jill Rutaremara, spokesman for the Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF). "It will assist us in whatever we do there and improve the quality of life for our soldiers deployed to Darfur."

Rwanda has four battalions of peacekeepers in Darfur, totaling 2,566 personnel, with a goal of increasing the peacekeeping force to 3,200, Rutaremara said. The Rwandan peacekeepers are assigned to the hybrid United Nations-African Union mission in Darfur, known as UNAMID.

The decision to airlift the equipment was announced January 5 by President George W. Bush as part of the U.S. government's ongoing support international peacekeeping efforts in Darfur.

Since 2003, conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan has displaced an estimated 2.5 million people and led to an estimated 300,000 deaths, according to the United Nations. Since 2004, the United States has spent more than $15 million to airlift 11,400 peacekeepers and their equipment to and from Darfur and has provided more than $100 million to train and equip those forces, according to a White House fact sheet. Much of this support is coordinated through the U.S. Department of State.

"I have provided a waiver to the State Department so they can begin to move 240 containers worth of heavy equipment into Darfur, and that the Defense Department will be flying Rwandan equipment into Darfur to help facilitate the peacekeeping missions there," President Bush said. The 240 containers are being transported under a separate contract by the U.S. Department of State.

The military portion of the airlift is the first major mission planned by Air Forces Africa (also known as Seventeenth Air Force), the air component under Africa Command. Air Forces Africa is headquartered at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

"This was a complicated project that ultimately took several months of interagency and interdepartmental coordination and planning," said Major Greg Lococo, chief of operational planning for Air Forces Africa.

The 722nd Expeditionary Airbase Squadron, under Air Forces Africa, was responsible for working with the RDF to prepare the vehicles and equipment for the deployment, conducting airfield operations focusing on cargo movement as well as ironing out the logistical details associated with the mission. The squadron includes specialists from the 615th Contingency Response Wing based at Travis, and U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany.

"We've been impressed by the professionalism of the Rwandans," said Air Force Major Sang Kim, 722nd Expeditionary Air Base Squadron commander. "The work done here is essential to enable the RDF to execute their mission in Darfur."

The airlift was provided by aircraft and crews from the active-duty 60th Air Mobility Wing and the Air Force Reserve's 349th Air Mobility Wing also from Travis A.F.B.

"From planning through execution, this was a great experience for our unit," said Colonel Lida Dahnke, commander of the 404th Air Expeditionary Group at Air Forces Africa and parent unit to the 722nd. "Once our planners had assembled all of the pieces to the puzzle, we still had to work through the processes of putting them all in place to execute the mission."

More than three months of extensive planning and preparation made the mission "fairly seamless for us," said Major Sean Pierce of the 301st Airlift Squadron, who was aircraft commander for one of the two C-17 transport planes.

The mission also represents the first large-scale peacekeeper support mission for U.S. Africa Command since it was formally activated Oct. 1, 2008. Previous support missions in support of peacekeeping in Darfur were conducted under the direction of U.S. European Command, which had responsibility for Africa prior to the activation of U.S. Africa Command.

"The U.S. military has been working with African nations for years," said Vince Crawley, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command. "The command wants to add value to what the U.S. military has been doing; that is helping African partners develop their security capabilities in order to promote security and stability throughout the continent."
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