HOW US AIR FORCE CAPTURED JUBA AIRPORT AND DID THEIR OWN THINGS WHILE ‘BABA’ WAS SLEEPING in 2016!
By Aftaboss Cyber Nomads
In July 2016, many wonders that have entered history annals and Hollywood movies took place in the South Sudanese capital of Juba, besides the J1 Dogfight. Triggered by the attack on the seven US diplomats in a bulletproof car at the Presidential Palace’s gate in the evening of July 7, 2016 (just a day before the actual fight) by ‘unknown gunmen’, who were later identified as from a ‘special unit’ in the national army, the US Marines force launched a rescue mission, paralyzed Juba system, executed their mission and went away with it.
According to the “harrowing account of how USAF C-130 crews sneaked into South Sudan to evacuate diplomats under fire”, which was reported on the ‘TheWarZone Wire’ (thedrive.com) and collected by our own AFTABOSS’s ‘Cyber Nomads’ while still hot, the rescue mission is described as the most difficult in modern US army operations.
However, from our South Sudanese point of view, the are-we-safe question still lingering in every reader’s mind is how foreign forces could capture our defence system, do their own things and get away with it, only to go and boast of the operation 2 years after.
While our president was sleeping, or doing God-knows-what in his comfort zone, the US president, His Excellency (for that matter) Barack Obama, commanded the operation that was second to his Osama Bin Laden’s mission in history, as described here.
“President Barack Obama himself directed the U.S. military to provide support to the American embassy in the South Sudanese capital Juba amid a worrying spike in violence in the country that had led to dozens of deaths, including a Chinese peacekeeper. The trio of C-130J aircraft assigned to the 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron – using the call signs Lion 592, 593, and 594 – subsequently brought in more than 30 special operators, including U.S. Army Special Forces, U.S. Navy SEALs, and at least one Air Force Special Operations Command Joint Terminal Air Controller, along with their equipment. This personnel provided command and control on the ground, local security, and escorted almost 30 American citizens to safety in neighboring Uganda.”
The Report, which covered the award ceremony given to the C-130 Squadron crews for executing a successful mission in South Sudan, justifies why President Obama had to violate our airspace and sovereignty as lack of control over the forces by the Commander-in-Chief (Gen. Salva Kiir) and the availability of the country’s defence system in the hands of the loose command, including the airport likely falling into the hands of the rebels as the battles were raging in different parts of the city between July 7 and July 12.
“There were also concerns about whether South Sudanese president Salva Kiir was exercising complete control over his own forces, including those in charge of various anti-aircraft weapons. Between 2015 and 2016, the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army, the formal title of the country’s military, acquired Russian-made S-125 radar-guided surface-to-air missiles and Chinese QW-2 man-portable shoulder-fired infrared-guided types. These weapons posed a very real danger to the low-and-slow flying C-130s. The crews did not have access to chaffs for their countermeasures dispensers at the time. Their planes also lacked directional infrared countermeasures systems, or DIRCM, that have been increasingly common on Hercules operating in high-risk areas to defeat smaller, shorter-range infrared-guided missiles.”
So the Obama’s 3 aerial Lions bamboozled the Kiir’s ground tigers, commandeered the airport and its control tower, installed their own communications system, went to their embassy and hotels, collected their staff and stuffs and flew away within few minutes of air and ground operations. And nobody in both US and South Sudan has talked of it! Oh really?
The award-winning Juba raid by the Americans was part of the modern rescue system code-named ‘Operation New Normal’, which came into being from the US’s embarrassing attack on their Benghazi embassy in Libya. It was launched from the Africom’s Camp Lemmonier at Djibouti and coordinated from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, then Entebbe and Juba.
The aircraft and crews who flew the July 2016 mission actually came from the 39th Airlift Squadron, which is based at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, which provided the manpower to the 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron in Djibouti at the time. The 16 officers and airmen subsequently received the 2017 General James H. Doolittle Trophy, which Air Mobility Command awards each year to an individual or individuals within the command who demonstrate “extremely meritorious service, professionalism, courage and leadership.” We at The War Zone recently obtained the complete award citation and supporting information via the Freedom of Information Act.
The report, seen by our ‘Cyber Nomad’, made mention of some 6 stealth planes called ‘hornets’ that flew from somewhere not revealed to the Mission and hovered over Juba as back-up cover to the 3 squadron ‘lions’ evacuating the US diplomats on the ground. There were other unidentified rescue planes from Entebbe to evacuate the US citizens. This abrupt mission was planned in such a way to avoid the difficulties the first evacuation mission suffered in Bor in December 2013, in the hands of Gen. Peter Gatdet and other SPLA commanders, who defeated the US Marines with heavy ground fire till the mission was cancelled.
“The Air Force was well aware of this danger from a previous non-combatant evacuation operation into South Sudan in 2013. During the mission, three Air Force CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotors had to abort an attempt to rescue American citizens trapped in the South Sudanese city of Bor after coming under fire from small arms and rockets from either government troops or rebel forces. All of the aircraft suffered serious damage and some of the U.S. Navy SEALs on board nearly died as bullets and shrapnel pierced the sides of the fuselage.
With these concerns in mind, the C-130s followed a circuitous route so they could try to avoid 13 known anti-aircraft sites. The planes also zipped into South Sudan at extremely low-level under radio silence to give any potential hostile forces the least amount of time to react.
Once on the ground, special operators seized control of the control tower at the airport within three minutes. Other personnel had started unloading vehicles within 20 seconds and were soon moving toward the embassy. When a Joint Tactical Air Controller assigned to the response team lost contact with friendly forces, the crew of Lion 594 took over those duties, using their onboard communications systems to direct unspecified intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft into position to monitor the convoy’s progress. These might have been small manned types the U.S. military had and still has in Uganda, but if that was the case, those aircraft could have been similarly at risk from South Sudanese missiles.
The individuals from the 75th also coordinated with a total of six F/A-18 Hornets from an unknown unit – possibly part of the U.S. Marine Corps’ own Africa-focused crisis response task force – that flew overhead during the mission. These aircraft were fully loaded and on station to provide close air support for the evacuation convoy or the personnel coordinating the operation from the airport if necessary.”
In conclusion, our bloggers in this revelation suggests why South Sudan government should rework their diplomatic wires with the United States of America. It does not help President Kiir and his radarless generals to front US as an enemy to the people of South Sudan whom the Americans have stood with since the war of liberation through independence to the current humanitarian support. Given the economic, diplomatic and military might, there is nothing South Sudan can do against the US, better normalize the relations so that such embarrassing raids are avoided by joint operations. Simply put in some war adage, if you cannot beat them, join them.