Operation Echo Casemate
Primary Operating Location: Bangui, Central African Republic
Secondary Operating Location/s: Bujumbura, Burundi; Entebbe, Uganda
– U/I Command and Control Element
– U/I Security Element
– Detachment, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Africa
Start Date: 9 December 2013
End Date: Ongoing
Summary: In March 2013, the Seleka rebel group in Central African Republic deposed President Francois Bozize and installed their leader, Michel Djotodia as the country’s new leader. Djotodia subsequently declared the rebel group disbanded, in what was perceived as an attempt to consolidate power in his new position. Ex-Seleka rebels continued to commit acts of violence and criminality across the country, however, including in the areas immediately outside the capital, Bangui. The eventually led to an outburst of violence in December 2013 between nominally Muslim ex-Seleka rebels and nominally Christian militias seeking the ouster of Djotodia and with a loose allegiance to former President Bozize.
In response, the United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 2127 on December 5th, which gave a UN mandate to African Union forces already in the country, as well as French forces poised to intervene. The French subsequently launched Operation Sangaris the next day. Initially, the United States only pledged $40 million in monetary aid. On December 9th, however, the US Department of Defense announced that it would support the rapid deployment of African peacekeepers in support of the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA). This was the product of a request by the French and the operation, codenamed Echo Casemate, would be conducted in coordination with French forces.
Echo Casemate involved the airlift of a Burundian infantry battalion, with approximately eight hundred and fifty personnel, along with their associated equipment into Central African Republic. The operation would involve flights from Bujumbura, Burundi to Bangui Central African Republic. In Burundi, a US logistics element would support the loading of the aircraft. In Central African Republic a security element was deployed to provide security at the airport in Bangui to unload the aircraft. A command and control element to coordinate the efforts was established at Entebbe, Uganda, a major hub for US operations in East Africa, such as Operation Observant Compass and Operation Tusker Sand. A detachment from Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Africa was designated as the logistics element in Burundi. The detachment was already in the country conducting a training engagement for Burundian Army logistics companies preparing for deployment to support the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
The first sortie by a US Air Force C-17A Globemaster III aircraft occurred on December 13th and the US Department of Defense declared that the mission had been completed on December 30th. The US had assisted in the airlift of a total of 857 Burundi troops, 73 pallets of equipment, and 18 Burundian military vehicles, including Chinese WZ551 armored personnel carriers, into CAR in support of MISCA.
In January 2014, Echo Casemate continued with the airlift of a battalion of Rwandan peacekeepers to CAR. The Rwandan mechanized infantry battalion was first moved to Kigali, Uganda, and from Entebbe moved the peacekeepers into CAR. The US military airlifted a total of 850 Rwandan personnel into CAR, along with their associated equipment.
As of March 2014, Operation Echo Casemate was reported to be ongoing, having flown at least one additional airlift of supplies in early February. The mission remained active to continue supporting international efforts in CAR.
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