Ramstein Units Partner to Help Evacuees From Libyan Conflict

NAVAL AIR STATION SOUDA BAY, Crete, March 6, 2011 — Sev­er­al Ram­stein Air Base units have been key to pro­vid­ing air­lift sup­port for the human­i­tar­i­an cri­sis on Libya’s bor­ders since U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma pro­vi­sioned mil­i­tary sup­port, March 3, 2011,
The 37th Air­lift and Air Mobil­i­ty Squadrons, work­ing in con­cert with 17th Air Force (Air Forces Africa) for U.S. Africa Com­mand, are pro­vid­ing this capa­bil­i­ty. While 37th crews are fly­ing human­i­tar­i­an relief mis­sions, mem­bers of Ramstein’s 435th Con­tin­gency Response Group are facil­i­tat­ing the mis­sions, pro­vid­ing every­thing from com­mu­ni­ca­tions and com­mand and con­trol to force pro­tec­tion.

As the air com­po­nent for AFRICOM, 17th Air Force is orches­trat­ing the mis­sions through its plan­ning staff and 617th Air and Space Oper­a­tions Cen­ter, col­lo­cat­ed with its Ram­stein Headquarters. 

After more than two years under AFRICOM, 17th is well-versed in coop­er­a­tive efforts between Depart­ments of Defense and State. So when a human­i­tar­i­an cri­sis fol­lowed polit­i­cal upheaval in North Africa, 17th Air Force was ready to assist the State Depart­ment-led relief effort, accord­ing to Air Force Major Gen­er­al Mar­garet Wood­ward, 17th AF commander. 

“We were able to quick­ly answer the call and play our part by orches­trat­ing air­lift to ease suf­fer­ing among the Libyan peo­ple and third coun­try nation­als who have crossed the bor­ders seek­ing relief from the con­flict there,” Wood­ward said. “Oper­at­ing in Africa has giv­en us many chances to work and become famil­iar with sup­port­ing our part­ners in the State Depart­ment. We’re hap­py to be able to con­tribute, and we hope, along with the efforts of many oth­er coun­tries, we’ll be able to improve the sit­u­a­tion for peo­ple in need as a result of this conflict.” 

Air Force Lt. Col. Charles “Doc” Schlegel said the 17th effec­tive­ly brought the units togeth­er to exe­cute the human­i­tar­i­an missions. 

“The 17th coor­di­nat­ed the effort and made it pos­si­ble for aid to be quick­ly deliv­ered to peo­ple who are in need, and for us to move evac­uees,” Schlegel said. “We have been work­ing togeth­er to adapt to an evolv­ing sit­u­a­tion and pro­vide assis­tance in sup­port of the over­all U.S. gov­ern­ment response. So far, it’s a great exam­ple of Team Ram­stein work­ing together.” 

Schlegel’s team began fly­ing human­i­tar­i­an relief mis­sion March 4, 2011, and has deliv­ered relief sup­plies to Tunisia for USAID and shut­tled more than 300 dis­placed Egypt­ian cit­i­zens to Cairo. 

The team’s abil­i­ty to adapt has been key to their con­tri­bu­tion on what Air Force Cap­tain Jason Pow­ell called deemed “an inter­na­tion­al scale.” 

“We start­ed March 3, we part­nered our capa­bil­i­ties with the 17th to sup­port the State Depart­ment and things are going fair­ly smooth­ly,” said the Cap­tain, the direc­tor of oper­a­tions for the 435th’s Con­tin­gency Response Ele­ment. “Things are always chang­ing, but it’s a tes­ta­ment to our flex­i­bil­i­ty that we con­tin­ue to make progress on this mis­sion. We are real­ly stoked, to go in and make a dif­fer­ence for peo­ple that are suffering.” 

(U.S. Air Force Mas­ter Sgt. Jim Fish­er is assigned to 17th Air Force Pub­lic Affairs) 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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