U.S. Air Force transfers $5.5M in vehicles to Niger, enhances defense capabilities

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Stephanie Longoria
  • 435th Air Expeditionary Wing

The 724th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron logistic readiness flight (LRF) received approval through the foreign excess personal property (FEPP) program to transfer approximately 30 motorized vehicles, worth $5.5 million to the Government of Niger at Nigerien Air Base 201, Agadez, Niger, Feb. 11, 2022.

The FEPP program is a process used by the U.S. government to permanently transfer unneeded property to a foreign government. This process saves taxpayer dollars and also increases partner nation’s defense capabilities.

The transfer of vehicles and equipment between the U.S. and Niger has been a two-year coordination process, and vital in assisting Niger Armed Forces (French language: Forces Armées Nigeriennes (FAN)) in the fight against violent extremism and defense against transnational threats while also alleviating storage limitations for Airmen in Africa.

“This is a win for the United States as we continue to build our partner capacity with our host nation,” said Capt. Matthew Reyes, 724th EABS LRF commander. “Another benefit is the installation will free up a large portion of real estate that was being occupied by these vehicles…around 57 thousand square feet.”

The transfer consists of a wide-range of construction equipment no longer being used by the U.S. which will now support FAN-led construction projects both locally and nationally to include a firing range at Nigerien Air Base 101, Niamey enabling more and better training.

“Most of the vehicles were from the old Red Horse unit that used to be here,” said Senior Airman Keelie Ciaro, LRF fleet management and analysis and FEPP program lead.

“It’s mostly construction equipment like bulldozers, rock dumps, graders and loaders,” said Staff Sgt. Jessica Ruiz, LRF fleet management and analysis NCO in-charge and FEPP program lead.

If the assets could not be transferred to the FAN, the Defense Resource Management System (DRMS) would have assumed responsibility which would have required shipment back to the U.S.

“The DRMS program would determine if the vehicles would be repurposed or salvaged,” said Reyes. “The FEPP program is saving the Air Force money in shipping costs by allowing our host nation to receive these vehicles in country, while allowing us to continue building relationships with our partners.” 

“Sending the vehicles would cost more than the worth of the vehicles,” Ruiz added. “Donating them will increase the capabilities of the government of Niger and generate good will between nations.”

Over the last two weeks, nine vehicles were transferred to the FAN. The transfer of vehicles is expected to continue through summer of 2022 while US Airmen and FAN soldiers navigate repair, logistics and administrative processes.

“If a vehicle is close to a functioning capability, the FAN will attempt to fix it and drive off with it,” said Reyes. “If no fixes are possible then the FAN will transport them through alternate methods.”

The immense task of validating and coordinating each vehicle is accomplished by two Airmen; Staff Sgt. Jessica Ruiz and Senior Airman Keelie Ciaro.

“SSgt Ruiz and SrA Cairo have dedicated countless off-duty hours to ensure the safe and timely transfer of these assets,” said Reyes. “All while managing their primary duties as AB201’s only Fleet Management and Analysis team!”

“We appreciate the hard work by all involved to make this a reality and hope that it is the model for the future,” said Mr. Steven Lord, Chief, Theater Logistics Branch, HQ USAFE-AFAF/A4RT. “It just makes logistics sense not to spend taxpayer dollars to move equipment for disposal when it can benefit a partner nation.”  

Niger is critical to frontline counter-violent extremism in both the Sahel and Lake Chad Region; as such, the U.S. steadily invests in further building Niger’s counter-terrorism capabilities.

Airmen at AB 201 continue to be the greatest advantage and the cornerstone of enduring relationships with Nigerien partners by dedicating time and effort to building partner capacity and strengthening their defenses.