OPERATION ASSURED LIFT


ASSURED LIFT was a Joint Task Force (JTF) operation to provide airlift and other logistical support to West African states that deployed more than 600 troops to Liberia as part of the regions ongoing Economic Community Military Observation Group (ECOMOG) peacekeeping mission.

In 1997 the Air Force provided support for the Economic Community of West African States Military Observer Group during Operation Assured Lift. Operation Assured Lift kicked off 18 February 1997 with the first airlift into Liberia of troops from the Economic Community of West African States Cease-Fire Monitoring Group, or ECOMOG. During the 17-day operation, airmen from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, worked side-by-side with Army and Marine Special Forces troops from Special Operations Command Europe and Fort Bragg, N.C., to move West African peacekeeping forces into war-torn Liberia.

The Air Force sent a mission support team, combat controllers and fire protection specialists, while the Army and Marines supplied special operations troops. Air Force troops were responsible for processing the ECOMOG troops and palletizing their equipment. At the heart of the operation were five C-130s from the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein, responsible for transporting the ECOMOG peacekeepers and equipment from Mali, Ghana and Cote D'Ivoire, into Liberia. Led by Maj. Gen. Tad Oelstrom, 3rd Air Force commander, members of the JTF moved 1,160 peacekeepers and 452 short tons of cargo to Liberia to join the 2,000 ECOMOG soldiers already there to provide law and order following the country's civil war. The last US aircraft left Cote D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) 07 March 1997.



Assured Lift mission in Liberia ends
ABIDJAN, COTE D'IVOIRE (AFNS) - The U.S. Air Force C-130 containing the last load of cargo and troops set down in Liberia last month, marking the end of operations for Joint Task Force Assured Lift.

During the 17-day operation, airmen from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall, England, worked side-by-side with Army and Marine Special Forces troops from Special Operations Command Europe and Fort Bragg, N.C., to move West African peacekeeping forces into war-torn Liberia.

At the heart of the operation were five C-130s from the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein, responsible for transporting the Economic Community of West African States Cease-Fire Monitoring Group, or ECOMOG, peacekeepers and equipment from Mali, Ghana and Cote D'Ivoire, into Liberia.

Led by Maj. Gen. Tad J. Oelstrom, 3rd Air Force commander, members of the JTF moved 1,160 peacekeepers and 452 short tons of cargo to Liberia to join the 2,000 ECOMOG soldiers already there providing law and order following the country's recent civil war.

Oelstrom said he is pleased with the outcome of the operation. "I don't think we could have done better," he said. "If you take a look at the initial estimate of what we were going to be able to lift with the sorties allocated, you'll see that we, in fact, lifted more. I don't believe we had a glitch in any of the delivery sorties, and we did more than ECOMOG ever expected."

Planning and execution were the keys to the success of Operation Assured Lift, the general added. "Everybody understood that when we came down here, we had this cloud over the top of us that said 'you've only got this much money to spend,'" the general said. During the planning phase of the operation, the JTF was allocated $3.2 million by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"When you attribute success for an operation such as this, you have to go back to the planning phase," the general said. "We essentially had this thing laid out almost to the penny, which is unbelievable. We planned for 48 sorties, we flew 49. You can't get much closer than that."

- by Senior Airman Erick Saks


© Robert W. Kranz (2005) 
Information courtesy of: www.globalsecurity.org & AirForce Link