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Cessna 208Bs
One of three new Cessna 208Bs taxies to its parking pad after landing at Shindand Air Base, Oct. 2011. As of Dec. 2012, the last of 26 C208 aircraft arrived in Afghanistan for the Afghan Air Force. The aircraft are used for cargo and personnel transport, including injured Afghan National Security Forces service members. (ISAF photo/Sargento OR-6 Juan Ardura Santa Engracia/Spanish Army)
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Afghan Air Force advances battlefield support tactics

Posted 1/25/2013   Updated 1/25/2013 Email story   Print story


by Capt. Agneta Murnan
438th Air Expeditionary Wing/NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan

1/25/2013 - KABUL, Afghanistan -- The commanders of the Afghan Air Force and NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan signed two operational decrees Jan. 23, 2013, implementing procedures to improve air response to Afghan battlefield casualties by the AAF's new Cessna C-208 fleet and its Mi-17 helicopters.

The decrees address the high-priority missions of evacuation of wounded personnel (CASEVAC) and the dignified, culturally-appropriate transfer of fallen members of Afghan National Security Forces. The signings took place in the NATC-A headquarters at the Kabul, Afghanistan, International Airport.

"We are going to sign two policies today, one of them is about injured personnel and another one is about the fallen ones," introduced Maj. Gen. Abdul Wahab Wardak, commander of the AAF, noting the months of work involved with these specific policies.

"These air support missions are critical to campaign success, augmenting ground CASEVAC resources when needed," emphasized U.S. AF Brig. Gen. Steven Shepro, NATC-A commander. "To improve the effectiveness of these missions, the AAF and NATC-A team have accelerated the delivery, configuration and initial operating capability of the C-208 fleet in a matter of months."

The decree initiatives instruct aircrew and direct streamlined command, control and communication across security organizations. The AAF's primary unit for managing sorties, or flying missions, is the Afghan Air Force Command and Control Center. This 'sortie center' is more frequently referenced as ACCC, or 'A-Triple C'. According to the NATC-A Director of Operations, U.S. AF Col. Reginald Smith, the AAF has transferred 146 patients for continued medical care in the last three months of 2012. The primary AAF aircraft used for casualty movements have been Mi-17 helicopters, C-27A Spartan and Cessna 208B fixed wing aircraft.

"The ACCC functions to task AAF units and aircraft to conduct troop movement, resupply and equipment logistics along with the movement of the injured and fallen," said Smith. "The ACCC works in coordination with the Afghan Ministry of Defense to prioritize and task missions each day according to the position and availability of aircraft."

Current C-208 seating configurations accommodate up to eight ambulatory patients, but modifications to transport four litter patients along with two additional ambulatory patients are in progress, according to NATC-A medical personnel.

According to U.S. AF Col. Michael J. Paston, advisor to the AAF Surgeon General, the lack of C-208 cabin pressurization rarely limits patient transport in Afghanistan. "In the past six months there was only one patient unable to be transported by air" because of this lack of pressurization, he said.

"The AAF's recent progress in these priority missions has been significant," said Shepro. "Three months ago, the air CASEVAC process would have taken over 24 hours; today, response times average under five hours from battlefield request to hospital arrival--and are increasingly Afghan-planned, coordinated and executed with minimal advisor input. Air response and capability continues to improve; over the last three months, the AAF air supply to the six fielded Afghan Army Corps has comprised more than 570 missions, 370,000 pounds of cargo and 5,400 passengers.

"The Afghan-Coalition team has a clear strategy for 2013 mission success and growth of the AAF's quantity and quality," said Shepro. "These operational decrees provide joint cohesion, direction and motivation to improve air support to Afghan National Security Forces and enhance campaign success."

For more information about NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, visit

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