Shannonwatch observed and photographed two US Hercules C-130 aircraft at Shannon Airport in the last week. The first, on Wednesday April 4th, was being boarded by troops brought to its side by a cavalcade of buses. The second which was at Shannon on Friday 6th April was a similar aircraft, a C-130T.
According to GlobalSecurity.org, the mission of the C-130T is to provide logistics support to Navy fleet operating forces. It provides rapid transportation for personnel or cargo for delivery by parachute or landing. The aircraft can be used as a tactical transport, or readily converted for ambulance or aerial delivery missions. It can land and take off on short runways, and can be used on landing strips such as those found in advanced base operations (such as those in Afghanistan). It provides mission capabilities such as emergency evacuation of personnel and equipment, advanced party reconnaissance, and special warfare operations.
The C-130T that was in Shannon last Wednesday (serial number 164762) was carrying passengers. In fact at lunchtime busloads of military personnel were brought out to the aircraft to board, presumably after spending the night on Irish soil. While this was going on an Irish army guard remained on duty by its side.
The aircraft observed on Friday has the serial number 165161. It too had an army guard.
Shannonwatch intends to seek full disclosure of why these US armed forces were being accommodated by the Irish state, and what operations they were engaged in. The troops probably stayed overnight in a hotel in Limerick City on their way to (or from) a mission that is not governed by international law and for which there is no accountability. If civilians die in Afghanistan or elsewhere as a result of armed forces that went through Shannon will an investigation be ordered by the Irish government? Does the Department of Defence or the Department of Justice and Equality, both overseen by Minister Alan Shatter, ever consider the possibility of war crimes being committed by an army assisted by the Irish State. Do they have any regard for the value of Irish neutrality, or for the wishes of the people living in countries in which these troops are operating and killing?
Sadly, in all cases the answer seems to be no.
Shannon Airport is being used for war operations on a daily basis, without the agreement of the Irish people and without consideration of the appalling consequences for millions of men, women and children. It is a sad reflection on Ireland, a nation with a history of supporting oppressed people and promoting peace, that this should be the case. We now support the oppressors, with no regard for the legality or morality of our actions.
Click here to see photographs of the Hercules aircraft at Shannon.