April 20th, 2010
11:50 AM ET

Volcanic ash diverts troops to Iraq for treatment

Some U.S. troops critically wounded or taken ill in Afghanistan are being shipped for treatment to Iraq instead of Germany, due to the European air traffic turmoil caused by the spread of volcanic ash.

The troops cannot be transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany where the airspace has been closed.

The first troops arrived in Iraq three days ago and there were about 20 of them there, according to Master Sgt. Stefan Alford, spokesman for the 332
Air Expeditionary Wing in Iraq.

The U.S. military hospital at Balad, Iraq, has been designated the new hub for all aeromedical evacuations because of the disruptions in air traffic
caused by the volcano eruption in Iceland.

Balad can provide urgent or higher levels of medical care for the troops before they are sent to the United States, the U.S. Air Force said.

Wounded troops taken from Afghanistan to Iraq will be treated swiftly and then moved on to the United States.

The Air Force and Pentagon did not announce the shift to Iraq. But the website for the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing says Balad is now ready for a
"sudden high-paced operations tempo," and expects to receive more U.S. wounded troops.

"We anticipate receiving more and more battle injuries from Bagram," said Capt. Ethan Moses, an Air Force flight surgeon at Balad. He was referring to
Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

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Filed under: Daily Developments • Troops
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. maurice in mississippi

    SFC T.,

    You have a stalwart Army mentality, but it should not be fostered off on other members as being necessary to not lament any delay in returning home caused by an act of God, or one of Man. In this case. both are involved. The door to active Military service in a War Zone is the same one to Home and it swings both ways, and those who willingly walked through it in every conflict the US has ever been involved in have had to suffer when expected furloughs, leaves, and Homeward bound rotations were delayed for whatever reasons.

    My own Son, a 26 yr.old Army 1st Lt soon-to be-Captain who is being shipped out to Southern Afghanistan considered it a blessing to have almost an additional week to spend with his family at Ft. Cambell, KY. He finally left just yesterday AM on a Non-Stop Chartered Jet and is now already in Kuwait. The required due effort was made to get him there...perhaps a bit more than is being made to get returning soldiers out.

    You speak about Moral. Well much has been addressed to help moral lately. But as in most such cases, quite often the same mentality you espoused is behind the dismissal of needing to be overly concerned about making an extra effort to reward the returning soldier with a prompt-as-possible return home. Of corse there has to be a sensible look at logistics and expense, but really, as SPC O. stated, a 2-3 day stint of R&R in Kuwait while awaiting a flight home would show a caring for such soldiers that seldom is afforded them.

    In your defense however, the several day delay is not so bad that is deserves being held up as a Flag of dissent. SSG Q's complaint is a little premature and certainly a bit self centered in nature, but he's earned the right to be thinking of himself and his family now.

    As a father of a Service man who already has done a 16 month tour in Iraq and is heading back into Harm's Way, I share in whatever trials and tribulations he encounters. His glories are mine, as well as his troubles. I support him irrevocably. So if he was waiting to come home and was delayed by any simple lack of effort, Oh my....I'd be PO'd!

    That is not the case here. Concern about the safety of the Troops is, as well as the economics of having to dedicate specific Chartered flights to transport Troops home via a southern route. That eats up the military budget better spent in saving lives by supporting the supply needs of Troops. Also, those coming in MUST take priority over those returning home.

    Everyone has a valid point on here.....even SSG Q. But his complaint is a bit premature. Yours was correct, but a bit too dismissive of feelings I'm almost sure you have held yourself, just kept closer to vest. I applaud your service....so try to appreciate the service of others as well.

    April 23, 2010 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
  2. becca

    I am waiting for my son to come home from Iraq and the delay is just another day or two, but I would rather he be safe, as well as all of our troops, be safe thank you for your service

    April 23, 2010 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  3. SSG W

    I agree 110% with SFC T. As a SSG in our military it is your duty to keep morale high and sometimes that means not whining regardless of the situation. Anyone that has served in the military for more than a day understands that there will be times when things happen that we just don't like and have no control over, but we can control our emotions. Those are the things we expect our E-1 thru E-4 to whine about and it is the E-5 and above to keep them occupied. I am sure the SSG has a very good reason to get home, but I am also sure he wouldn't ask anyone else to risk their life to fly an airplane through this volcanic ash to pick up his unit nor would any family he has at home. So, just keep sucking it up SSG and one day you will be home. However, maybe the courageous SPC O would be willing to replace you so you can get home and stop your whining. I thought Marines were supposed to be the toughest of the tough, but this sounds like someone that should have joined the Air Force since they short tours and have it much easier than the Marines who get the short end of the stick all the time. In the end think about the hell you have been through the last year and that you survived. God Bless and make it home safe and soon.

    April 22, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. charlotte

    well i have to agree with SSG Q. After serving our country the least they could do is get him home to his family. They are still pple with feelings, not robots. They agreed to serve our country, was not forced on them, they signed on thier own free will, but does that mean they don't have loved one's back home they miss and want to see?? Thank God for our troops who have devoted thier life and time to help us keep our freedom. But they get such short time on leave as it is, After all the sacrifices they make, they should be much better taken care of by our govt than what they are and for goodness sake, at least get the soldiers home when they are supposed to go!

    April 22, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. rofl

    you jarheads make me laugh

    April 22, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SPC O.

    SFC T., firstly, you're out of line for telling a fellow soldier to "suck it up" and that it's "B.S." for him to come online and "whine". SSG Q. has a constitutional right to freedom of speech; you should know that because you've been an American for longer than a day, right? Secondly, you're not in a position to judge him. You don't know who's waiting for him at home. It could be a sick loved one, a pregnant wife, or this could be his 4th or 5th tour and he could be a stop-loss soldier who's spent more time in the service than what he signed for. Just because YOU wouldn't mind being stranded doesn't mean everyone else should not. Thirdly, there are other routes the military could take in order to get his unit back to the states. Additionally, they could be sent to Kuwait or Manis, away from the war zone, which would be far better than being stuck in Iraq. He has a right to complain and I'm sure his soldiers feel the same way he does. I also speak from experience with two tours completed as well as 7 months stop-loss.

    April 21, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Judy Casserman

    Dear SSG Q
    I can't even imagine your units frustration over this. As a mother of a currently deployed Marine in Afghanistan, I can tell you I would be raising holy hell (not that it would do any good) to our govt. leaders. Thank you for your service and know that we are keeping all of you in our prayer for a quick and safe return to your loved ones back home in the Sweet USA. God Bless all of you. You men and women are the true heroes of of our time.

    April 21, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gerald

    Suck it up troop, your a SSG in the US Army, you have been around longer than a day. It is called hurry up and wait. Things happen and you know it. For you to come on to a site like this and whine is B.S. and is not good for your troops morale. I am sure your family would rather you be delayed a few days than for you to go down due to the ash messing with your AC to take you home. Relax and enjoy the down time before you get back to the daily grind of Army duty. I speak from experience as I finished my third tour last summer.

    SFC T.

    April 21, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  9. SSG Q

    I have seen many stories about pop celebrities and Tiger woods infedility. This is real news right here. This is headline news. My unit is crrently stuck in Iraq awaiting our turn to go home. We have been stuck here for several days because of the volcanic ash cloud. The plane we were hping to take us home is currently grounded in Romania. Why the U.S. has not sent another plane to recover us is unknown. We have all completed a One year tour as asked by our country. All we are asking to do is go home. Mission Complete.

    April 21, 2010 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |