CAMP SHORABAK, AFGHANISTAN, –
In recent operations throughout Helmand Province, the Afghan National Army 215th Corps has improved their casualty evacuation process with assistance from U.S. Marine advisors assigned to Task Force Southwest.
On July 24, 2017, two Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopters successfully extracted an injured soldier in the Nawa district of Helmand Province during Operation Maiwand Four. Within an hour of notification, the helicopters had already loaded the casualty and departed from the pickup site on the battlefield.
“The main reason this happened so quickly was because my partners and I had done the planning the night before,” said Lt. Col. Mirzashah Sadaq, the air officer of 215th Corps. “We’re [also] getting better because I have dynamic communication to the pilots. That’s why we made progress and another reason why it happened so fast.”
The wounded soldier suffered severe damage to his left leg, caused by a rocket attack. Improving the timeline of the casualty evacuation greatly increased his chances of limb salvage, and ultimately saved his life.
“The first step was making sure the aircraft were in alert status, so if a mission like this did occur, they were ready. [Sadaq] is the one who readied that,” said Capt. Robert Walters, an advisor with Task Force Southwest.
Limited air assets make prioritizing missions a key trait for the 215th Corps. Both Mi-17s were transporting personnel from Lashkar Gah to Camp Shorabak and were scheduled to then extract a routine casualty from the Sangin area, but when the notification of an urgent casualty arrived, Sadaq diverted the helicopters to evacuate the soldier with the life-threatening injury.
“If you look at their previous CASEVACS, they were able to reduce their overall time by about 75% [during this CASEVAC],” added Capt. Daniel Willet, an air advisor with the Task Force. “They were able to [change priorities] when they needed to, and they were thinking forward. This was the first time they were able to put it all together and make it happen… Sadaq started doing that, and it’s crucial.”
During continued operations against insurgency, the 215th Corps again re-designated two aircraft to extract two killed and two wounded soldiers Aug. 5 without requesting assistance from the advisors.
“We had no idea there were casualties at Camp Shamshad, yet he reprioritized his aircraft to get the casualties without consulting us,” said Walters.
After receiving medical care at the 215th Corps hospital, the soldier was soon transported to a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he remains in stable condition.
“Saving someone’s life is important to everybody,” said Sadaq. “We do what we’re supposed to do, and really try our best to do it as quick as possible.”