Thursday, February 21, 2008

Africa's "unique challenges"

Checklist for deployment to Africa: weapon, Alpha Mobility Bag, personal bag, MREs, bag with $10,000 inside.

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — When airmen arrived in Africa earlier this month to support President Bush’s trip to the continent, they brought their communications equipment; Meals, Ready to Eat; and plenty of power converters.

But they left home without their credit cards.

That’s because while many places in Africa had jet fuel and allowed Air Force planes to land on their runways, they don’t take American Express. They don’t accept Master Card or Visa, either.

Airmen had to carry bags stuffed with tens of thousands of dollars to pay for everything from bottled water to fuel. It’s the reality of operating on the continent, which the U.S. military considers a top priority.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Rod Bishop — who is commanding a joint task force of some 1,500 airmen, Marines, soldiers and sailors from an operations center at Ramstein Air Base — said the mission has been a sobering lesson on “how difficult it is to operate on that continent.”

Something else to remember regarding operations in more austere parts of the world. h/t: Alert 5.

As an aside, we had a running joke at FT calling people "aircrew chemical defense bags." For those of you not well versed in such things, the nomenclature for an aircrew chemical defense bag is a delta bag. I trust you can figure out the rest.