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Hybrid battalion moves into Darfur

Airmen from the 786th Air Expeditionary Squadron loaded United Nations armored personnel carriers onto C-17s en route to the Darfur region of Sudan Oct. 24 at Kigali International Airport in Kigali, Rwanda .

Airmen from the 786th Air Expeditionary Squadron loaded United Nations armored personnel carriers onto C-17s en route to the Darfur region of Sudan Oct. 24 at Kigali International Airport in Kigali, Rwanda .

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --   The U.S. Air Force provided airlift support to the Rwandan 55th Battalion Oct. 24. 

The battalion is one of two working as the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operations in Darfur. The other battalion is from Nigeria.

In July, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution creating UNAMID.

By the beginning of 2008, UNAMID anticipates having 26,000 troops on the ground in Darfur which would make it the largest current peacekeeping operation in the world, according to a United Nations' report.

In order to reach UNAMID's goal, Rwanda and Nigeria have offered hybrid battalions to ready the Darfur region for the change.

"We are building up the capability for the transition," said Rwandan Lt. Col. Ndore Rurinda, African Union operations officer.

In order to ensure the hybrid battalion from Rwanda was fully supported, Airmen from the 86th Contingency Response Group have been busy loading freshly-painted armored personnel carriers onto C-17 Globemaster aircraft from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. 

The Airmen have also been transporting Rwandan Soldiers, food, medicine and equipment in and out of the Darfur region.

Fifty Airmen worked out of Kigali International Airport in Kigali, Rwanda, for the multi-day operation to support the Rwandan Defence Force with airlift support, said Lt. Col. Kevin Therrien, 86th Air Mobility Squadron director of operations.

"We are small, but we are a very efficient and skilled team," said Colonel Therrien. "Everyone here has several specialties and they are performing extremely well." 

The small team of Airmen have transported approximately 1,500 Rwandan Soldiers and 170 short tons of equipment in and out of Darfur.

"This is the type of mission we train for," said Tech. Sgt. David Taylor, 86th AMS contingency response team chief, who has been involved with this mission in Rwanda five times since 2005. "We are happy to be part of this cooperative effort to accomplish the mission."

The deployed Ramstein Airmen transported the 800-person hybrid battalion and equipment into the Darfur region.