Weekend Report from US Airbase Shannon

This weekend at Shannon Airport the US military were passing through in significant numbers, on the road to God-knows-where without anyone in the Irish Government seeming to care.

On Saturday morning 25 June at 8am there were two warplanes at the airport. One was US Navy C40 Clipper, capable of carrying troops or military cargo, and the other was a US Marine Corps C-9 Skytrain logistics aircraft. These aircraft are used to provide cargo and passenger transportation as well as forward deployment logistics support, and special missions.

On Sunday 26 June (today) at 4.45pm there were two more US warplanes at Shannon. One was hiding in "plain clothes" in the guise of civilian aircraft owned by Omni Air International. As it was parked at Gate 42 it was most likely carrying US troops. The other warplane was a Hercules C130, US Marine Corps, Lockheed KC-130J, tail number QB-8068, and it was clearly carrying some US troops of some type. The KC-130J is a multi role warplane; it can be equipped to act as a mid-air refuelling aircraft or it can accommodate 92 ground troops or 64 paratroopers and equipment while conducting tactical transport duties. Some KC-130J aircraft have also been used in Afghanistan with Hellfire and other missiles in a ground attack role.

Shannonwatch photographed several US soldiers getting off the Hercules KC-130J and getting into a number of minibuses. They were dressed partly in civilian type clothing, but some were also wearing parts of their uniforms, and all were carrying what were clearly military rucksacks. The Shannonwatch photographer followed one of the minibuses as it left the airport. It travelled in to Limerick City and the US soldiers disembarked and went into the George Boutique Hotel on Shannon St, Limerick.

One individual dressed in a black jacket but wearing a green military type vest underneath seemed to be in charge. From their demeanour it was clear they were not your average squaddie type soldiers, and they were also probably not air crew. They may well have been Special Forces.

We don't know if these soldiers went through customs before leaving the airport, or if customs checked their baggage for guns. It is most unlikely however. They did not have time to go through customs from the time Shannonwatch photographed them getting off the KC130J and the time they left the airport. Indeed there appears to be no checks whatsoever on the US military aircraft or on the US soldiers who arrive on these military aircraft and spend an overnight in hotels in Co Clare and Co Limerick.

The claims by the government that men like these are not involved in military operations or exercise is clearly nonsense. It is time it was exposed.

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