DJIBOUTI, Africa (NNS) -- Although last week's escalation of attacks in South Sudan caused immediate cancellations of all flights in Juba, Ambouli International Airport stepped up to the challenge, providing superior support for both commercial and military operational flights to their airfield.
Fighting broke out in South Sudan on July 7 between government and opposition forces. The increased concern over the security situation led to Juba International Airport closing its airfield July 9 to incoming and outgoing flights. Coordination between both U.S. military and Djiboutian airport leadership in the Horn of Africa assisted in the joint effort of ensuring safe transport during the influx of activity to Ambouli.
Air Operations Officer, U.S. Navy Lt. Matthew Daniels, said Ambouli's director of the airport assured priority handling and support of increased mission events.
"Coordination on several short-fused request has proven to be positive to flight operations with the Djiboutian leadership in regards to the current needs of the airfield," Daniels said. "Both Djiboutian and U.S. [Navy] air-traffic controllers have truly shown professionalism and readiness to combat any situation."
In a previous interview, Daniels said the three tenants of air traffic control are to execute the mission by providing 'safe, orderly, and expeditious' flow of traffic. U.S. and Djiboutian Air-Traffic Controllers (ATC) have shown an immeasurable response and control of flight operations without missing a beat.
Djiboutian ATC Field Officer Mohammad Mousse has been one of the driving forces to ensure military operations can take place on the airfield. The impact has led to several successful missions in the past week. During the increased operations tempo, massive coordination between Djiboutian and Navy ATCs and KBR employees has been crucial.
Camp Lemonnier Airfield Manager, Christopher Williams, said the mutual relationship and understanding of military operations was key in the recent and continued success of airfield readiness.
"We've established a great working relationship with the Djiboutian airport leadership," Williams said. "That rapport is apparent in the smooth coordination, timely reaction and operational response to real world events."
Air Traffic Control Chief Francis Beaudoin said there is a mutual respect that has grown between the team that has been helpful.
"The relationship we have allows us to get the mission done. When events pop up, we can mutually help one another bridge the gap," Beaudoin said.
The recent high visible activities at Ambouli represents the superior capability the air traffic controllers have in supporting missions day or night. The airport is a full functioning military airfield that has caught the attention of higher echelon leadership throughout the region.
Flight operations onto the airfield are coordinated through the Djiboutian Air Tower. Safety of military personnel, aircraft and cargo is the priority for all operations from Ambouli.
The airfield has undergone massive improvements in the past year. These improvements include the runway and navigation systems. The joint training has proven to be beneficial during crucial events.
"We've seen unwavering flexibility and a driven initiative by all to safely execute this mission," Williams said. "It's apparent that there is a mutual understanding of the importance and complexity of the Juba operation."
Camp Lemonnier provides, operates, and sustains superior service in support of combat readiness along with security of ships and aircraft detachments and personnel for regional and combat command requirements, enabling operations for the Horn of Africa while fostering positive U.S.-African nation relations. Camp Lemonnier enables the forward operations and responsiveness of U.S. and allied forces in support of Navy Region, Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia's mission to provide services to the fleet, fighter, and family.
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For more news from Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/CAMPL/.