The US Air Force Has Flown Hundreds of Missions Supporting the French Intervention in Mali


Credit: Tech. Sgt. Mike Buytas/wikimedia

It appears that without American support the intervention in Mali could be going differently. 

Although the U.S. did not send troops to Mali as part of the French-led intervention that began earlier this year the U.S. military contributed a huge amount of logistical support, flying over 200 refueling missions for the intervention as well as forty-seven sorties in C-17s, which transported equipment and personnel.

From Shaun Waterman at The Washington Times:

Air Force Times reported the U.S. Air Force's 351st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, forward deployed to Morón Air Base, Spain, from RAF Mildenhall, in Suffolk, England, has offloaded more than eight million pounds of fuel in 204 separate missions in support of the French Air Force as of May 15.

The U.S. air-tanker workhorses, KC-135s, began their assistance to the French on Jan. 27, U.S. Air Forces in Europe spokesman Capt. William Russell told the publication, just days after the intervention in Mali began.

While the French military may have achieved most of its goals in Mali it is important to remember that its first world military still relies on American support.

More from The Washington Times:

"We recognize our role as tankers will always be to support others," unit commander Lt. Col. Timothy Kuehne said in a release. "Our combined operations with the French in Mali have given us a chance to prove our ability to contribute to anti-terrorism operations led by our partners around the world."

France and Britain both have an independent in-air refueling capability, said retired Lt. Gen. Richard Y. "Dick" Newton, former director of the U.S. Air Force staff and now executive vice-president of the non-profit Air Force Association.

But, especially for missions far outside of Europe, "there does remain a reliance on U.S. air refueling capabilities which cannot be matched by any other air force," he added in an email to The Washington Times.

Note: The origninal beginning of this post read "It appears that without American support the intervention in Mali could have been quite different," which of course incorrectly implies the intervention is over. As Reason 24/7 reminds us daily, it is not.