Home | News    Thursday 18 March 2004

EUCOM delivers aid to Chadian forces to fight terrorism

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By 1st Lt. Phillip Ulmer, U.S. European Command

FAYA-LARGEAU AIRPORT, Chad, March 15, 2004 — Answering a request for assistance, units from U.S. European Command responded with two C-130 Hercules delivering more than 19 tons of aid Saturday [March 13] to Chad.

According to Chad officials here, 3 Chadian army soldiers were killed and 16 were injured when they encountered and engaged a group of fighters from the Salafist Group for Call and Combat who had crossed from Niger into Chad between the cities of Zouarke and Wour, 600 kilometers North of here. Officials also said that 40 of the militants were killed and four were taken into custody.

"Usually it takes about two days to plan a mission like this," said Capt. Jeff Menasco, 37th Airlift Squadron instructor pilot and mission commander, from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. "But we were airborne within an hour of being notified of the mission."

Just a little more than 10 hours after takeoff, the runway on the edge of the desert creeps into sight. Landing on the 7,700-foot runway just outside of Faya-Largeau, the crews taxi the C-130s amid scrub brush and sand. The temperature soars into the 100s at this one-building airport. More than three-dozen armed Chadians, ready to help download the aircraft, greet the crews.

Governor Hassane Djangbeï, who governs the Bockou, Emmedi, Tibesti region of Chad, said that the military engagement with the terrorists led to the discovery and subsequent seizure of implicating documents and equipment.

"We took five trucks with large machines guns mounted in the back, as well as a large weapons cache of rocket propelled grenades, AK-47s, mortars and ammunition," said Governor Djangbeï through an interpreter. "We also discovered that the terrorists were well equipped with a handful of GPS units and satellite phones."

Chad, located in the North-central region in Africa, has become an important ally in the global war on terrorism with the Pan Sahel Initiative. The Pan Sahel Initiative is a U.S. Department of State Security Assistance Program focusing on four countries in the Sarah region of Africa.

The initiative supports U.S. national security interests combating terrorism and enhancing regional peace and security. It directly assists Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania in protecting their borders and exploiting opportunities to detect and deter terrorists by providing basic training and equipment.

"On behalf of the people of Chad, I’d like to thank the American government and the United States Air Force for the aid you are delivering today," said Governor Djangbeï. "This aid will help our injured soldiers and it will help us as we try to fight the terrorists in our region."

Richard Boucher, spokesman for the Department of State, in a statement March 12, congratulated the Chadian forces on their successful military action. "It shows that foreign governments can operate successfully against terrorists, and that’s the key to defeating terrorism worldwide," he said.

[US EUCOM is a unified combatant command whose mission is to maintain ready forces to conduct the full spectrum of military operations unilaterally or in concert with the coalition partners; to enhance transatlantic security through support to NATO; to promote regional stability; and advance U.S. interests in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East."]

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