In another historic step for the Afghan Air Force, an AAF Cessna 208 configured for battlefield casualty evacuation successfully transported a seriously injured soldier and three minor casualties from Kandahar, Afghanistan to Kabul International Airport Feb. 11.
The Afghan-tasked, planned and led mission validated the recently-signed CASEVAC Concept of Operations between AAF Commander Maj. Gen. Abdul Wahab Wardak, and NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan Commander Brig. Gen. Steve Shepro. AAF and NATC-A staffs, with inputs from field units and advisors, were behind both the CONOPS and the AAF C-208 configuration to improve air support to Afghan National Security Forces in the field.
“We achieved an important milestone in our AAF/NATC-A strategic flightplan,” stated Wahab, referring to the combined strategy signed last October designed to assure AAF impact on battlefield success in 2013 and independent operations by 2017.
“This was yet another win for the AAF,” agreed Shepro, “which continues to advance and impact campaign successes.”
“CASEVAC is the heartbeat of battlefield medical airlift support and this is the first time ever that the Afghan Air Force has been able to transport a litter patient on a C-208,” Col. Michael Paston, 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Wing surgeon general, stated when asked of the importance of this event.
“This is adding a capability that will increase the morale, not only in the Afghan air force, but in the entire Afghan National Security Forces. It provides Afghans with a sense of security to know that if hurt on the battlefield, they will be taken care of quickly.”
The mission was executed by a mixed NATC-A and AAF aircrew, including a trained Afghan flight medic who helped design the CONOPS. The AAF medic provided basic medical care to the patients during the two-hour C-208 sortie, including assessing the patients, providing oxygen, readjusting the patients and ensuring they were strapped in properly.
“The Afghans that I work with take every opportunity to train that they can,” said Canadian Forces Maj. Cathy Mountford, 438th AEW flight surgeon advisor. “The Afghan medics have been training weekly in order to accomplish this mission and are some of the most motivated medics I have ever had the privilege to work with.”
“This is an evolving operation with areas for improvement, but overall the transportation and mission was a huge success,” Paston summed up. “It was inspiring to see our Afghan counterparts that we work with and advise every day rush out to the plane and conduct the medical treatments on patients they were trained to do. This truly was a historic and impressive day for the Afghan air force.”