215th Corps improves casevac process

US Marine Capt. Robert Walters, left, an advisor with Task Force Southwest, and Afghan National Army Lt Col Mirzashah Sadaq, right, 215th Corps air officer, at Camp Shorabak, Afghanistan, 5 August (Sgt Lucas Hopkins / USMC)
An Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopter lands at Camp Shorabak, Afghanistan, 5 August (Sgt Lucas Hopkins / USMC)

The Afghan National Army 215th Corps has improved its casualty evacuation process in recent operations throughout Helmand Province, with assistance from US Marine advisors assigned to Task Force Southwest, according to a report issued by the US military.

On 24 July, two Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopters 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, 215th Corps air officer. “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 his limb being saved and ultimately saved his life, said the report.

“The first step was making sure the aircraft were in alert status, so if a mission like this did occur, they were ready. [Lt Col Sadaq] is the one who readied that,” said Capt. Robert Walters, a Task Force Southwest.

Limited air assets make prioritising 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, Lt Col 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 per cent [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.”

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.

During continued operations against insurgency, the 215th Corps again re-designated two aircraft to extract two killed and two wounded soldiers on 5 August without requesting assistance from the advisors, stated the report.

“Saving someone’s life is important to everybody,” said Lt Col Sadaq. “We do what we’re supposed to do, and really try our best to do it as quick as possible.”


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