Europa/USA — Volcanic Ash Reroutes Transport of Afghan War Wounded

WASHINGTON, April 20, 2010 — Ash from an Ice­landic vol­cano lim­it­ing Euro­pean air traf­fic has forced the U.S. mil­i­tary to reroute some Amer­i­can troops wound­ed in Afghanistan through Iraq instead of Ger­many, a mil­i­tary offi­cial said today.
Defense offi­cials decid­ed to trans­port war wound­ed to Bal­ad, Iraq, to increase troops’ lev­el of sur­vival and to main­tain med­ical capac­i­ty in Bagram, home to the pri­ma­ry U.S. med­ical cen­ter in Afghanistan, Air Force Brig. Gen. Steven L. Kwast said.

“It’s all dri­ven by the require­ment med­ical­ly that that inter­me­di­ate stop saves lives, and it needs to be done,” Kwast, com­man­der of the 455th Expe­di­tionary Air Wing, told Pen­ta­gon reporters.

While Bal­ad does not have the same capac­i­ty as the Land­stuhl Region­al Med­ical Cen­ter in Ger­many, where troops nor­mal­ly receive care before return­ing to the Unit­ed States for fur­ther treat­ment, Kwast said, the mil­i­tary has tak­en mea­sures to ensure care at the Iraq-based facil­i­ty is com­pa­ra­ble.

“The real­i­ty is that there is no degra­da­tion in care because we’re going to Bal­ad instead of Land­stuhl,” he said.

Dis­cussing the need to main­tain capac­i­ty at the field hos­pi­tal in Bagram, Kwast cit­ed last year’s bat­tle at Com­bat Out­post Keat­ing. Fight­ing that erupt­ed at the remote U.S. mil­i­tary camp near the Pak­istan bor­der left eight Amer­i­can troops killed and 24 wound­ed, neces­si­tat­ing a field hos­pi­tal equipped for han­dling mass casu­al­ties.

“We have to be pre­pared at a moment’s notice for some­thing like a COP Keat­ing or a dev­as­tat­ing attack by the ene­my,” he said. “To have that capac­i­ty ready at our hands means we have to move those wound­ed sol­diers [to Iraq], and we have to move them in a way that allows us that capac­i­ty to be pre­pared for the unex­pect­ed.”

Kwast said the mil­i­tary is using flight paths that cir­cum­vent the ash plume when trans­port­ing those wound­ed and killed in action, albeit on dif­fer­ent flights.

“There has been no degra­da­tion in the speed and the effi­cien­cy and the dig­ni­ty and respect with which those remains have come back home since the vol­canic erup­tion,” he said.

A plume of ash that began erupt­ing last week con­tin­ues to block Euro­pean and transat­lantic flight paths, includ­ing those of Amer­i­can mil­i­tary air­craft. Thou­sands of com­mer­cial and mil­i­tary flights rang­ing from Ire­land to the Ukraine have been can­celled as the Eyjaf­jal­la­jokull vol­cano con­tin­ues to spew ash.

In addi­tion to rerout­ing Afghan war casu­al­ties, the U.S. mil­i­tary has made oth­er adjust­ments. Amer­i­can bases in Milden­hall and Lak­en­heath, Eng­land, and Ram­stein and Spang­dahlem air bases in Ger­many have been affect­ed by the ash plume.

“There are no flight ops due to the manda­to­ry dec­la­ra­tion and sus­pen­sion of flights from Euro­Con­trol,” Pen­ta­gon spokesman Bryan Whit­man said yes­ter­day. Euro­Con­trol is the equiv­a­lent of the U.S. Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion.

“We still have a sol­id con­tin­gency plan for evac­u­at­ing our wound­ed out of [the U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand area], and we’ve relo­cat­ed some of our aeromed­ical evac­u­a­tion air­craft to Rota, Spain, along with med­ical teams that pro­vide for care all along the route,” Whit­man added.

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →