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Relief at Tactical Air Detachment 'Marfil' between the 42nd and 43rd Air and Space Army Contingents

Thies, Senegal
October 23, 2023
  • The Armed Forces continue their mission to support France, the European Union and the United Nations in the fight against terrorism for the stabilisation of the Sahel.

The inauguration and change of command of the Force Commanders of the 43rd (incoming) and 42nd (outgoing) contingents took place at the facilities of the "Escale Aéronautique Commandant Lemaitre" at Blaise Diagne International Airport, where the 'Marfil' Tactical Air Detachment (DAT) operates from.

The official ceremony was presided over by Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Carmona, Marshal of the Operations Command. Following the protocol, Lieutenant Colonel Javier Velasco Humanes received the command of the DAT Marfil, with Lieutenant Colonel César Oscar Acebes Puertas stepping down.

Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Carmona Mariscal, in his speech, praised the great work carried out by the outgoing contingent, highlighting the importance and firm commitment of Spain to International Peace and Security, and encouraged the members of the incoming contingent to continue with this work, as an exemplary example of the contribution of the Armed Forces to foreign action

Marfil Detachment

The DAT Marfil, of the Air and Space Army, is part of the A/M operation. Its deployment base is the "Escale Aéronautique Commandant Lemaitre", located at the French Elements in Senegal (EFS) facility at Blaise Diagne International Airport.

Under the operational command of the MOPS (Operations Command), this operation is tasked with intra-theatre tactical and logistical airlift missions, as well as in-flight refuelling (if deployed assets permit) in support of France in its fight against terrorism in the wider Sahel area.

In addition, the DAT 'Marfil' supports the United Nations missions MINUSMA and MINUSCA, focused on the stabilisation of Mali and the Central African Republic (R.C.A.) respectively, as well as the European Union missions EUTM RCA and EUTM Mali, in support of the training and education of their respective armed forces and the G5 Sahel Joint Force.

The Detachment is composed of 59 women and men from different Air and Space Army units, mostly personnel from the 35th Wing, the Air Deployment Support Squadron (EADA), the Second Air Deployment Support Squadron (SEADA) and the Mobile Air Control Group (GRUMOCA). It operates with an Airbus C295 aircraft (national military designation T-21) belonging to the 35th Wing, a unit located at the Getafe Air Base (Madrid).

The Joint Force Air Component (JFAC) of the mission, located in Lyon (France), is in charge of programming the missions of the Spanish aircraft, which remains on alert to operate 24/7 in the joint operations area.

This Detachment is an example of the capabilities provided by Spain, in this case through the Air and Space Army, to other Armed Forces, where availability and operability are paramount. The resources operate in a sub-Saharan environment, which means, on numerous occasions, landing in unprepared fields and in extreme weather conditions of high temperatures and heavy rain, due to frequent seasonal storms. These factors, coupled with the large area of operations where missions are conducted, together with the health risk in some areas, are a constant challenge for the Detachment's aircrews.

After more than ten years of operation, the DAT Marfil is consolidated as an exemplary example of the use of the personnel and material of our Armed Forces, deployed wherever national interests require it, strengthening the State's external action in its commitment to international Peace and Security.

The 'Marfil' detachment has already accumulated more than 14,000 flight hours, between the T-21 and Hercules C-130 (T-10) platforms that have been deployed in the area.