Air Transportation: The African Phoenix


February 26, 2009: The U.S. military has hired the Phoenix Air Group to provide twin engine passenger and cargo aircraft to move American troops and equipment around Africa. The Phoenix Air Group has long provided the U.S. Air Force with specially equipped Learjet 35/36 aircraft for electronic warfare training. The Learjets are twin engine aircraft fitted out with electronic warfare equipment and manned by technicians who can replicate a multitude of situations fighter and bomber pilots might encounter in combat. Phoenix also has dozens of twin engine cargo and passenger aircraft for charter.

The main customer of the new air transport services will be AFRICOM (Africa Command), which is similar in organization to other commands (Central, for the Middle East, and South, for Latin America, etc). AFRICOM coordinates all American military operations in Africa. Before, those operations were coordinated between two commands (the one covering Europe and the one covering Latin America). The establishment of AFRICOM means more money for counter-terror operations in Africa, and more long range projects.

But this is an organization that is spread around, and has no base in Africa itself. Office and support facilities for the AFRICOM, that was created two years ago, are near SOUTHCOM headquarters, outside Miami, Florida. AFRICOM headquarters are currently located outside Stuttgart, Germany, where it will remain until a home can be found in an African country. Many African nations are leery about getting involved. There is fear of terrorist attacks on any AFRICOM facilities in their territory, and some African nations, at least those run by dictators, don't want more Americans, and their democratic ideas, upsetting the status quo.

One thing most African nations do want from AFRICOM are military and counter-terrorism trainers. The problem with this is that, the people so trained are often then employed as enforcers for the local dictator. Even providing training for peacekeepers can backfire, for those peacekeeping skills can also be used to pacify your own people. But AFRICOM will do what it can, and that means moving small groups of people, and their equipment, around a large continent with few major, and lots of minor, airports. This is the sort of thing Phoenix Air Group has the experience and equipment to deal with.


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