U.S. C-17s will airlift a battalion of Rwandan troops to the Central African Republic, in coordination with France, according to the Defense Department. (Airman 1st Class Brett Clashman/Air Force)
Air Force C-17s this week will begin their second airlift mission in support of operations in the Central African Republic.
The Globemasters are on the ground in Uganda preparing to lift a Rwandan infantry battalion to assist French operations against militants in the Central African Republic, a Defense Department official said Wednesday. The operation will be similar to the December operation when U.S. C-17s airlifted 850 soldiers from Burundi to the Central African Republic.
The mission will last about three weeks, the Defense official said.
In December, French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to support the French and other African Union partners in fighting militants in the Central African Republic.
The assistance agreement included Rwandan troops, and U.S. officials have been coordinating efforts since then.
Last year, Muslim rebels overthrew the CAR government, which has prompted increased sectarian violence. France began deploying troops to the capital city of Bangui last month, and they have faced continued fighting. About 4,000 African Union troops are in the country, with that number expected to climb to about 6,000.
Following the initial U.S. airlift support, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. led a delegation to the Central African Republic and the White House announced $101 million in aid to buy non-lethal equipment, such as vehicles and communications equipment.