In an effort to confront destabilizing forces and violence within the Central African Republic, France and the African Union requested U.S. support to move Rwandan forces into the region.
Airmen from the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing’s Contingency Response Group responded to the request. A joint Air Force and Army team of 35 aerial porters, along with maintainers and logistics planners, are on the ground at Rwanda’s capital of Kigali to assist in the African mission.
“I couldn’t be prouder of what our Airmen are doing in Africa right now,” said Col. Joseph McFall, 435th AGOW commander. “The support they are providing our international partners is key to enabling African-led solutions to stabilizing the region.”
Kigali International Airport is a key staging area for transport of the Rwandan troops, supplies and equipment into the Central African Republic. The mixture of civilian and military air transport created a unique and challenging environment to move more than 850 Rwandan troops and more than 1,000 tons of supplies and military equipment.
Several members of the CRG’s 435th Air Mobility Squadron are working with the Rwandan mechanized battalion to load personnel and equipment onto U.S. aircraft by building pallets containing security equipment, clearing weapons and creating load plans.
The 435th Security Forces Squadron is also on the ground. The defenders perform airport security surveys and are working with the embassy to conduct route surveillance. An independent duty medical technician is also assigned to the team and is responsible for providing limited medical care to the expeditionary team.
Rwandan military personnel are expected to remain in the Central African Republic for one year.
“What the Rwandans are doing in Central Africa is a key component of helping stabilize the region,” said Tech. Sgt. Carnard Drayton, 435th AMS NCO in charge of aerial port operations.
The 435th AGOW is located at Ramstein and has about 1,500 Airmen, civilians, contractors and local nationals ready to deploy and support a wide variety of contingency operations while enabling U.S. Africa Command and U.S. European Command goals throughout the region.