Though the security situation in Bangui, Central African Republic, has stabilized in recent weeks, US Air Force C-17s and Contingency Response Group airmen are assisting with the airlift of a Rwandan mechanized battalion to the CAR to increase the presence of an African Union security mission. USAF C-17s and airmen have been supporting the mission since it kicked off Jan. 14, in Kigali. The joint operation, which has 435th CRG airmen working with US Army Africa sustainment troops and Rwandans, begins in Kigali, Rwanda, with the construction of equipment and weapons pallets and logistics plans. The force then transports soldiers and equipment to Entebbe, Uganda, where they are then loaded onto two C-17s for transit to Bangui. “Our goal is to provide logistical and airlift support to the Rwandan military in order to support their overall mission,” said Maj. Micah Vander Veen, the CRG element commander. The joint US contingent is expected to transport around 850 Rwandan soldiers and over 1,000 tons of equipment in the next few weeks. The United Nations estimates that thousands of people in the Central African Republic have been killed by rebel violence and millions more need humanitarian aid, states a Pentagon release. (See also US Provides Airlift Support in Central Africa)
As the U.S. continues to pursue a diplomatic resolution with Russia over its troop buildup on the Ukraine border, the Defense Department is looking into what capabilities it will need to reassure NATO allies if Russia does launch an invasion, its top spokesperson said Jan. 21.