TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE — Travis airmen are among the more than 100 621st Contingency Response Wing airmen supporting airlift missions that transport French soldiers and military equipment from Istres, France, to Bamako, Mali, according to a 621st Contingency Response Wing press release.
Even though the wing’s headquarters is at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., the 621st’s squadrons are evenly split between there and Travis. The wing specializes in the rapid opening and operation of airfields in remote parts of the world.
While declining to give specifics on what the Travis airmen are doing, a 621st Contingency Response Wing spokesman said they are serving along with their East Coast peers to support the deployment operations from Europe to Africa.
“We continue to work in conjunction with U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Transportation Command and Air Mobility Command to make sure we provide the right support to our French partners,” said 621st Contingency Response Wing commander Col. Martin Chapin in the release. “Our airmen have directly contributed, aiding with the airlift of military personnel, supplies and equipment to locations designated by the French.”
The airlift started Jan. 21. As of Sunday, C-17 Globemasters had flown 30 missions, transporting 749 tons of cargo and delivering 609 people to Mali.
The 621st worked with the 87th Air Base Wing and the 305th Air Mobility Wing, both McGuire-based units, to deploy the French.
“We were able to show up here (at Istres), set up communications with the chain of command and provided an initial assessment of what capabilities the French had and what we could bring to the operation within an hour of landing,” 621st Contingency Response Wing contingency response element commander Maj. David Gaulin said in the release.
The 621st is also assisting with the coordinated airlift for African nations and liaison teams.
In the past three weeks, French forces conducted a lightning air and ground offensive that retook Mali’s main northern towns from Islamist occupiers. France expects to start pulling out troops in March and handing over security to Malian and other African nations’ troops, according to Reuters.
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