Air Mobility crews in Southwest Asia change from routine transport duty to short-notice medical evacuation—and make it look easy. Last week, the aircrew of a C-17 from Charleston AFB, S.C., deployed to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron in Southwest Asia, changed gears from “four stops in the box [Iraq]” to a rendezvous with two tankers and a flight halfway around the world, says Capt. Corbett Bufton, the aircraft commander. The unit added another pilot and switched aircraft for one with more fuel tanks, reports Capt. Teresa Sullivan. The C-17 then flew to Balad AB, Iraq, where it picked up two severely wounded soldiers and a medical team and flew them to Andrews AFB, Md. It’s the type of service, the Air Force says didn’t exist a few years ago.
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.