The U.S. military does not need Iraqi permission to fly close air support and casualty evacuation missions for U.S. troops in combat, a top spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS clarified on Tuesday.
Army Col. James Rawlinson clarified that the Iraqis do not need to approve missions in emergency circumstances after Task & Purpose reported on Monday that the U.S. military needed permission to fly CAS missions for troops in a fight.
U.S. Army Cpt. Katrina Hopkins and Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Rogers, assigned to Task Force Warhorse, pilot a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during a medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) operation at Camp Taji, Iraq, Dec. 18, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Javion Siders)
U.S. forces must now ask the Iraqi military for permission to fly in Iraqi airspace for certain missions. However, the U.S. military does not need Iraqi approval to fly close air support and casualty evacuation missions for U.S. troops in combat, a top spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS said.
"In emergency circumstances, CJTF-OIR and the government of Iraq have a process to ensure there would be no delays in transporting injured service members to medical facilities or to provide force protection for any coalition troops,"said Army Col. James Rawlinson, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. "For more routine flights, the Government of Iraq has visibility over all CJTF-OIR aviation missions, and we comply strictly with restricted airspace."
In May 1999, then-Lt. Col. David Goldfein's F-16CJ fighter jet was rocked by the explosion of a surface-to-air missile during a mission during the Kosovo War. Ejecting from his aircraft, the future Air Force Chief of Staff landed in a ravine and evaded Serbian fighters until he was rescued by a combat search and rescue team, according to the Washington Post; he was just one of two pilots shot downed as part of Operation Allied Force during the short conflict.
More than two decades after Goldfein's harrowing ordeal, the Air Force is exploring a more elegant option for future combat rescue missions: an unmanned system that, air-dropped onto the battlefield, is capable of whisking downed pilots and other wounded service members out of dangerous territory, Aviation Week reports.
Call it Uber for medevac — just without the surge prices.
U.S Army/Elizabeth Fraser/Arlington National Cemetery
The four Army Special Forces personnel killed by ISIS militants in Niger last year as part of the Department of Defense’s deepening counterterrorism fight across Africa are unlikely to be the last U.S. service members to die in combat there. That is, unless the Pentagon invests heavily in its rapid-response medical and casualty evacuation efforts across the continent — a prospect that seems deeply unlikely.