USAFE, Rwandan security forces protect airlift mission

1st Lt. Elizabeth Culbertson
USAFE News Service

***image1***KIGALI, Rwanda – A joint U.S. and Rwandan security forces team kept the people and aircraft safe during operations here.

The 16 members of the 786th Security Forces Squadron, from Sembach, and
the six members of the 435th SFS, from Ramstein, worked with Rwandan
troops to keep Ramstein C-130s and the deployed 86th Air Expeditionary
Group protected during their airlift mission to the troubled Darfur
region of the Sudan.

“We’re here to provide force protection for the support and flightline
ops, in close cooperation with Rwandan Defense Forces,” said Lt. Toby
Kennedy, 86 AEG security forces element commander.

The 86th AEG was supporting the African Union airlift mission, moving
550 AU peacekeepers to Sudan, as well as redeploying 200 AU troops back
to Kigali. The mission was part of the international and U.S.
government effort to assist the victims of the humanitarian crisis in

Security forces troops here provided access control, gate escort, and
other force protection measures in conjunction with host nation
security forces. They also employed a thermal imager, an “eye in
the sky,” that scans the runway, front gate and surrounding area.

The U.S. team consisted of 786th SFS Expeditionary Combat Support
forces, Ravens from the 786th SFS and conventional security forces from
the 435th SFS. The Ravens are specially-trained to provide security for
aircraft and aircrews while airborne and on the ground, but there were
only a limited number available for this particular operation.
Members of the 435th SFS assisted by augmenting the 786th SFS Ravens
with members experienced in aircraft security.

It’s a different type of environment at Kigali for Airmen used to
operating in more remote and demanding environments, said Lieutenant
Kennedy, but not one at variance with their overall mission.

“We provide close-in security for aircraft on the ground in austere locations,” said Tech. Sgt. Nathan J. Hogan, 786 SFS Raven.

The 435th troops were a welcome addition to the team, said Lieutenant Kennedy.

“They have stepped up and fully integrated with the Ravens. We couldn’t have done this mission without them,” he said.

Working in a foreign security environment always presents unique
challenges, said Lieutenant Kennedy, but the coordination between
countries helped to troubleshoot any issues.

The U.S. and Rwandan troops have worked together with a spirit of cooperation to protect resources, he said.

“The Rwandan team has facilitated all our requirements,” he said,
“They’ve gotten us everything we’ve needed and augmented our small
force, allowing us to project more force than we have alone. They are a
very capable military force”

U.S. deployed security forces also did an exceptional job, said Lieutenant Kennedy.

“Our security forces have shown a great adaptability to a dynamic
security environment and have shown fantastic professionalism in
executing the mission,” he said.

“The efforts of the Rwandan and U.S. security team have been a key
component in helping this operation to be completed safely and
successfully,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Renner, 86 AEG commander.