U.S. Air Force aiding France's Mali operations
By , 18th Air Force Public Affairs
/ Published January 25, 2013
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Air Mobility Command contingency response, maintenance and support personnel, and air crews continue to support the movement of French troops and cargo to Mali.
To date Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft have flown 18 missions delivering 574 passengers and 477 short tons of French cargo as part of U.S. Africa Command's effort to support French operations in Mali.
"Our Airmen are working around the clock with the French to prepare their equipment for shipment," said Col. Kevin Oliver, commander of the 818th Contingency Response Group, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., whose forces were among the earliest to arrive in France to set up the airlift stage. "Our Airmen started deployment preparations within an hour of getting the call from our headquarters, and we haven't stopped since."
France requested U.S. and international support for their efforts to halt the advance of Islamist rebels into territory held by Mali's interim government.
"I commend France for taking the steps that it has, and what we have promised them is that we will work with them, to cooperate with them, and to provide whatever assistance we can to try to help them in that effort," said Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
Planners at Headquarters, 18th Air Force and the 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center) at Scott AFB, Ill.; contingency response forces from the 621st Contingency Response Wing at Joint Base MDL, N.J.; and Airmen at Dover AFB, Del., and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., worked through the holiday weekend and have not stopped since supporting the international effort, officials said.