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U.S. Air Force and Uganda People's Defense Air Force Partner in Logistics Training
During crises around the world, the U.S. Air Force is often called upon to assist with humanitarian relief efforts. That may mean the evacuation of people from the path of destruction, or it could be simply air dropping food and medical supplies.
ENTEBBE, Uganda - Technical Sergeant Greg Henley, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, leads a class on conducting air drops while training together with the Ugandan Peoples Defense Forces, August 26, 2009 in Entebbe, Uganda. A team of U.S. airmen and soldiers visited Entebbe to practice logistic techniques and share information on how to prepare for and conduct airdrops of humanitarian supplies during a crisis. (Photo by Major Paula Kurtz, 17th Air Force)
3 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 3: ENTEBBE, Uganda - Technical Sergeant Greg Henley, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, leads a class on conducting air drops while training together with the Ugandan Peoples Defense Forces, August 26, 2009 in Entebbe, Uganda. A team of U.S. airmen and soldiers visited Entebbe to practice logistic techniques and share information on how to prepare for and conduct airdrops of humanitarian supplies during a crisis. (Photo by Major Paula Kurtz, 17th Air Force) Download full-resolution version
ENTEBBE, Uganda - Staff Sergeant Brock Knobloch shows Private Mansur Mupensi (right) and Private Tinkansiimire Happy of the Ugandan People's Defense Air Force how to "cook" a meal-ready-to-eat, August 26, 2009 in Entebbe, Uganda. A team of U.S. airmen and soldiers visited Entebbe to practice logistic techniques and share information on how to prepare for and conduct airdrops of humanitarian supplies during a crisis. (Photo by Major Paula Kurtz, 17th Air Force)
3 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 2 of 3: ENTEBBE, Uganda - Staff Sergeant Brock Knobloch shows Private Mansur Mupensi (right) and Private Tinkansiimire Happy of the Ugandan People's Defense Air Force how to "cook" a meal-ready-to-eat, August 26, 2009 in Entebbe, Uganda. A team of U.S. airmen and soldiers visited Entebbe to practice logistic techniques and share information on how to prepare for and conduct airdrops of humanitarian supplies during a crisis. (Photo by Major Paula Kurtz, 17th Air Force) Download full-resolution version
ENTEBBE, Uganda - Staff Sergeant Josh Woolridge, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, and Master Sergeant Garrick Lewis, drop zone support lead for 17th Air Force, explain how to "cook" meals-ready-to-eat to members of the Ugandan Peoples Defense Forces, August 26, 2009. A team of U.S. airmen and soldiers visited Entebbe to practice logistic techniques and share information on how to prepare for and conduct airdrops of humanitarian supplies during a crisis. (Photo by Major Paula Kurtz, 17th Air Force)
3 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 3 of 3: ENTEBBE, Uganda - Staff Sergeant Josh Woolridge, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, and Master Sergeant Garrick Lewis, drop zone support lead for 17th Air Force, explain how to "cook" meals-ready-to-eat to members of the Ugandan Peoples Defense Forces, August 26, 2009. A team of U.S. airmen and soldiers visited Entebbe to practice logistic techniques and share information on how to prepare for and conduct airdrops of humanitarian supplies during a crisis. (Photo by Major Paula Kurtz, 17th Air Force) Download full-resolution version
ENTEBBE, Uganda - Technical Sergeant Greg Henley, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, leads a class on conducting air drops while training together with the Ugandan Peoples Defense Forces, August 26, 2009 in Entebbe, Uganda. A team of U.S. airmen and soldiers visited Entebbe to practice logistic techniques and share information on how to prepare for and conduct airdrops of humanitarian supplies during a crisis. (Photo by Major Paula Kurtz, 17th Air Force)
ENTEBBE, Uganda - Staff Sergeant Brock Knobloch shows Private Mansur Mupensi (right) and Private Tinkansiimire Happy of the Ugandan People's Defense Air Force how to "cook" a meal-ready-to-eat, August 26, 2009 in Entebbe, Uganda. A team of U.S. airmen and soldiers visited Entebbe to practice logistic techniques and share information on how to prepare for and conduct airdrops of humanitarian supplies during a crisis. (Photo by Major Paula Kurtz, 17th Air Force)
ENTEBBE, Uganda - Staff Sergeant Josh Woolridge, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, and Master Sergeant Garrick Lewis, drop zone support lead for 17th Air Force, explain how to "cook" meals-ready-to-eat to members of the Ugandan Peoples Defense Forces, August 26, 2009. A team of U.S. airmen and soldiers visited Entebbe to practice logistic techniques and share information on how to prepare for and conduct airdrops of humanitarian supplies during a crisis. (Photo by Major Paula Kurtz, 17th Air Force)
During crises around the world, the U.S. Air Force is often called upon to assist with humanitarian relief efforts. That may mean the evacuation of people from the path of destruction, or it could be simply air dropping food and medical supplies. Whatever the need, the mission is typically time-critical and fraught with logistical challenges.

A team of Airmen from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and soldiers from the Nashville, Tennessee Army Reserve arrived in Uganda August 25, 2009 where they will spend the next few days engaged in a C-130 familiarization event with the Uganda People's Defense Air Force. This initiative will give Ugandan forces a first-hand look at how the U.S. Air Force prepares for and conducts airdrop of humanitarian supplies during a crisis.

"Several years ago, the U.S. Air Force was able to support humanitarian relief efforts following severe flooding in Mozambique," explained Major Jim Hackbarth, deputy chief, policy, doctrine and senior leader engagements for 17th Air Force. "More recently, torrential rains and flooding in Uganda cut off thousands of Ugandan citizens from ground transportation of supplies, leaving aerial delivery as the only viable option."

That incident sparked the idea for this week's mission. The UPDAF owns a civilian variant of the C-130 which it uses to move people and supplies from point to point.

Ugandan defense force leaders want to explore the possibility of conducting their own humanitarian air drops during emergencies or natural disasters, both nationally and throughout the region.

In Africa, a continent nearly three times the size of the U.S., logistical factors can present a huge challenge at a moment when timing is critical. In Africa, humanitarian relief often spells the difference between life and death.

"It just makes sense," Major Hackbarth said. "If they have the right equipment and are in the closest proximity to the affected area, then it makes sense for them to build that capacity within their force."

Working through the U.S. Embassy country team in Uganda, 17th Air Force started putting the pieces together for this event early in 2009. Once the basic concept was developed with the UPDAF, 17th Air Force went out with a request for forces to find a C-130 unit to support the mission. In mid-July that request landed with the 86th Operations Group at Ramstein, which agreed to support the event with an aircraft and entire team of aircrew and maintenance personnel.

"As a USAFE unit, we do these TSC (theater security cooperation) events pretty regularly in Europe and Africa," explained Captain Brian Shea, a navigator assigned to the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein and mission commander for this event. Tasked to provide an aircrew and maintenance team for the mission, Shea decided to volunteer for this one himself, his first TSC event with an African partner nation.

"Each nation we engage with has a different challenge," Shea explained. "Ultimately, these events allow us to share information in both directions and build an air-focused relationship with partners throughout the U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command."

In the last 18 months, his unit has conducted Theater Security Cooperation events in Botswana, South Africa, Algeria, Poland, Bulgaria and Israel.

"It's great to be out here doing something operational, and at the same time doing something unique," Shea said. "We're always looking at how we can help the partner nation, but we always learn something along the way too."
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