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Central African Republic - C.A.R. - Non-combatant Evacuation Operation

President Barack Obama sent a letter to Congress on Saturday 29 December 2012 providing notification that some 50 US troops had been sent to Chad on Thursday 27 December 2012 "to support the evacuation of U.S. embassy personnel and U.S. citizens from the Central African Republic." The decision to evacuate a US embassy and the order to execute a NEO is political. As a result of the deteriorating security situation, the US Embassy in Bangui suspended its operations on December 28, 2012, and therefore cannot provide protection or routine consular services to US citizens in the Central African Republic. The Department of State warned US citizens against all travel to the Central African Republic at this time. The U.S. Embassy in Bangui had resumed operations in January 2005, following the evacuation of all US staff in 2002.

Noncombatant evacuation operations (NEOs) are conducted to assist the Department of State (DOS) in evacuating US citizens, Department of Defense (DOD) civilian personnel, and designated host nation (HN) and third country nationals whose lives are in danger from locations in a foreign nation to an appropriate safe haven. Any level of departure assistance constitutes an enormous logistical effort. While some evacuations involve U.S. military or other U.S. government assets, most rely on commercial transportation and local infrastructure. Expectations of rescue by helicopters, the U.S. military, and U.S. government-provided transportation with armed escorts reflect a Hollywood script more than reality.

Prior US Military Involvement in C.A.R.

On September 25-27, 1991, after widespread looting and rioting broke out in Kinshasa, Zaire, US Air Force C-141s transported 100 Belgian troops and equipment into Kinshasa. U.S. planes also carried 300 French troops into the Central African Republic and hauled back American citizens and third country nationals from locations outside Zaire.

On May 23, 1996, President Clinton reported to Congress the deployment of U.S. military personnel to Bangui, Central African Republic, to conduct the evacuation from that country of "private U.S. citizens and certain U.S. Government employees," and to provide "enhanced security for the American Embassy in Bangui."

In February 2008, elements of the Lords Resistance Army entered the C.A.R. Since that time, LRA elements have attacked and abducted thousands of Central Africans. In the summer of the 2009, the Ugandan national army, known as the Ugandan Peoples Defense Force or UPDF, began operations to pursue the LRA and to help protect local populations. In October 2011, President Barack Obama announced that the United States would deploy a small number of U.S. forces to act as advisors to the national militaries in the region, including the UPDF and the Central African Armed Forces (FACA), that are pursuing the LRA. Forces were deployed to C.A.R. in December 2011. The president ordered 100 special operations forces to the region, where they operate from a joint operations center in Uganda and four remote outposts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

In his "Commander's Intent 2011" message, one of Army Gen. William E. "Kip" Ward's key approaches was that, "... [AFRICOM] will continue to support the African Union (AU) to include strengthening the capabilities and interoperability of the African Standby Force (ASF) and its sub-regional elements." To forward that goal, Maj. George K. Allen Jr. of U.S. Army Africa and Lt. Jonathan Goerk of U.S. Naval Forces Africa recently traveled to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, to participate in the Conference Bilan et Retour d'experience de L'exercice Kwanza 2010 or Exercise Kwanza After Action Review (AAR).

Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC) held the exercise in order to validate Central African Multinational Force (FOMAC) to AU standards. The force is one of five brigade-size elements that make up the AU's ASF-created to respond to crises on the African continent. Allen and Goerk sat alongside their CEEAC counterparts to gain a better understanding of how FOMAC performed during Exercise Kwanza in Cabo Ledo, Angola, from May 22 to June 5, 2010. The observers' participation in the Exercise Kwanza AAR follows their observation of the exercise this summer.

Africas crises are both honing and stalling the formation of the African Standby Force (ASF) of the African Union (AU) - a quick reaction force that could eventually number about 30,000 troops to be deployed in a range of scenarios, from peacekeeping to direct military intervention. Originally intended to become operational in 2010, the deadline for the ASF has been reset for 2015; but despite the delay, the ASF is becoming increasingly woven into the operating procedures of current AU security operations.

Once up and running, the ASF will be based on five regional blocs each supplying about 5,000 troops: the Southern African Development Community (SADC) force (SADCBRIG), the Eastern Africa Standby force (EASBRIG), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) force (ECOBRIG), the North African Regional Capability (NARC), and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) force (ECCASBRIG), also known as the Multinational Force of Central Africa (FOMAC).



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