Another Air Force aeromedical evacuation team responded to an urgent need for direct airlift from Iraq to the US, flying 15 hours to deliver a severely wounded soldier to life-saving medical care stateside. An all-Air National Guard critical care air transport team, comprised of airmen from different states, provided in-flight care, while a C-17 aircrew from the Mississippi ANG’s 172nd Airlift Wing made the run from Balad AB, Iraq, to Andrews AFB, Md., non-stop. The aircrew traded off pilots to get rest and refueled in the air, a task not usually done with medevac flights, reports TSgt. Mike Smith. The aircrew had just flown five hours from Germany, made a quick flight plan change, and got back into the air, flying six hours to the refueling rendezvous, then on to Andrews. After delivering their patient to Andrews, the CCATT headed back to Iraq, from which they generally fly to Germany every 36 to 48 hours with loads of wounded.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.