RAF BRIZE NORTON, England --
In order to maintain the strong relationship between Aeromedical Evacuation components of the Royal Air Force and United States Air Force, Reserve Citizen Airmen from Joint Base Charleston's 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron completed a training event here alongside their RAF counterparts from the Royal Auxiliary Air Force No. 4626 (County of Wiltshire) Aeromedical Squadron, July 12-14, 2019 at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, England.
Working together for each others' mutual benefit, Reservists from the U.S. Air Force Reserve 315th AES and Royal Auxiliary Air Force No. 4626 Squadron focused on the sharing of key Aeromedical Evacuation skills, as well as using each others' leadership and teamwork experiences for the common interest of both units. Because both units are made primarily of Reservists in their respective Air Forces, it provided an especially unique opportunity for members to also discuss how they could use the training in their civilian careers.
"The leadership exercises that we've been involved in this weekend are very valuable to our Reservists," said Flight Lieutenant James Iddon with No. 4626 Squadron. "They are great skills that we can take from our RAF training back into our [civilian] roles, and they also foster the ongoing relationship with the U.S. Air Force."
The reason for the ongoing affiliation is so that in time of need, medical evacuation components of both nations' air forces can evacuate patients to higher-echelon medical care.
"We work together - and we have worked together," said Iddon, "and we want to be able to be effective from the start. These kinds of exercises mean that our relationship is already built up: We already know each others' languages and have understanding so that when we are needed to work together, half the work is done and we can really focus on the task at hand."
Wing Commander Graham Banks, Officer Commanding of 4626 Squadron, provided 315th members with a tour of the 4626's facilities to discuss their capabilities before members participated in combined physical training, team building activities, and a leadership presentation led by professional speaker and former RAF member Al Sylvester.
"The relationship between 4626 Squadron and the 315th Airlift Wing has developed over a long period of time time," said Iddon. "It's really important to the Squadron that we develop these skills together, and look toward the future interoperability of our personnel. Having these skill sets means that in the future we have really solid building blocks to work on."
The units have another similarity in that, while they are able to operate on multiple aircraft, the C-17 Globemaster III serves as a common platform for medevacs both within and out of theater.
"We have a very segmented part of the AE mission - fixed wing aeromedical evacuation," said Maj. Lee Knoell, Medical Service Corps Officer with the 315th AES. "This unit does everything from level one, all the way up to getting [patients] through the aeromedical staging facility, so we get to learn about to these other pieces that we may need to do down the road."
RAF Brize Norton, located in Oxfordshire, is the largest RAF station, with approximately 5,800 uniformed personnel. It serves as the headquarters of the RAF's air mobility and aerial refueling forces, and operates the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, the same aircraft flown in the U.S. by Joint Base Charleston's 437th and 315th Airlift Wings.
"I have been lucky enough to be a part of these training exercises," said Iddon. "There's already this relationship and understanding of the way that each other work. And it's about building that culture, and that can't be done in an instant. Being interoperable opens up the resources that are available to achieve what we need to achieve around the world."