Aeromedical Evacuation

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The Air Force Aeromedical Evacuation system is a unique and significant part of the nation’s mobility resources. AE provides time-sensitive movement of casualties to and between medical treatment facilities, using Air Force and/or contracted aircraft with medical aircrew trained explicitly for the mission. AE forces can operate as far forward as aircraft are able to conduct air operations, across the full range of military operations, and in all operating environments. Specialty medical teams may be assigned to work with the AE aircrew to support patients requiring more intensive patient care.

The end of the Cold War and the associated military downsizing has resulted in a reduced forward medical presence. Consequently, theater commanders are more dependent on the AE system to link casualties to life-saving medical treatment.

The Department of Defense’s patient movement system comprises a number of interdependent entities with specific responsibilities that allow the entire system to accomplish the mission. The Air Force designated Air Mobility Command as the lead command for the air mobility mission including air refueling and airlift. AE is an element of the mobility mission and is one of AMC’s core airlift missions. As the executive agent for AE, AMC oversees an integral system of command and control, training, communications, and in-flight patient care by AE crews or critical care air transport teams and en route patient staging.

The AE system is operationally decentralized with AMC responsible for in-flight care between theaters and within the continental United States. Pacific Air Forces and U.S. Air Forces Europe are responsible for patient movement within their respective theaters. The AE system uses AE-capable mobility airframes, opportune airlift, and contracted medical transport to evacuate patients. AMC retains responsibility, the overall guidance and policy, for the global AE system.

The U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (Air Force Materiel Command) and Air Education and Training Command provide standardized formal training for aircrew members and mission essential ground personnel supporting the AE mission. Initial qualification for AE crew members is provided by the 375 Air Mobility Wing’s Flight Training unit.

The Air Reserve Component comprises approximately 86 percent of the total AE crew force structure, with the remaining 14 percent residing among four active duty AE squadrons. Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command AE personnel play a critical role in the AE mission execution during both peacetime and conflict. Along with their active duty counterparts, the ARC provides AE crews, critical care air transport teams and en route patient staging personnel in addition to mission ground support, needed to establish and conduct the AE mission.

The ANG has nine AE squadrons with a 10th programmed for activation at Fort Worth, Texas. The AFRC has a total of 18 AE squadrons. There are four active duty AE squadrons: two in CONUS and one each in USAFE and PACAF.

AMC/618th AOC/Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, is responsible for coordinating and executing inter-theater and CONUS AE missions. PACAF and USAFE are responsible for coordinating and executing intra-theater AE missions. Aeromedical Evacuation Control Teams work with other members of air mobility divisions to direct use of available aircraft, aircrews, and AE crews to meet validated AE requirements.