US Plans Relief Flights to Dafur

Two Air Force C-17s will transport heavy equipment from Rwanda to Sudan sometime in the next several weeks to support the African Union and UN peacekeepers in Sudan’s volatile Darfur region. President Bush announced the relief mission on Jan. 5. US Africa Command officials said on the following day the aircraft will haul about 75 tons of equipment, including water tankers, fuel tank trucks, forklifts, and other oversized cargo, from Kigali, Rwanda, to Darfur. A Pentagon spokesman told the Daily Report yesterday that the mission is still in the planning phase and no set timeline has been established. The upcoming airlift activities will be the first large-scale peacekeeping support mission for AFRICOM since it became fully operational last October. Past military relief efforts on the vast African continent were conducted under the auspices of US European Command. The mission will be the US military’s fourth since 2004 in support of efforts to stabilize Darfur. The reactivated 17th Air Force, headquartered at Ramstein AB, Germany, is the air component of AFRICOM and will play a lead role in coordinating the C-17 flights. (AFPS report by Donna Miles)