Rescue Operations Wind Down at Kandahar

The Air Force’s combat rescue mission at Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan is coming to a close after 11 years, announced officials there. On Jan. 30, airmen at Kandahar came together to mark the inactivation of the 46th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron. This Guardian Angel pararescue unit was based at Camp Bastion northwest of Kandahar but also operated a detachment at Kandahar, according to a Feb. 1 base release. The ceremony also recognized the forthcoming departure of the 59th ERQS, an HH-60 helicopter unit, from Kandahar. There is no planned replacement for these rescue helicopters at the base, states the release. “Because of Guardian Angel efforts in Afghanistan, many lives have been saved, even more enemies have been deterred,” said Maj. Joseph Barnard, 46th ERQS commander. “Now, coalition troops’ need for advanced access to sophisticated care under fire is lessoning,” he noted. Rescue forces at Kandahar have saved nearly 1,200 lives, evacuated nearly 1,800 additional personnel from the battlefield, and stood alert for 97,000 hours since they began operating from there in February 2002, states the release. “You have aced every test and crushed every challenge,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Smith, 59th ERQS commander. (Kandahar report by Capt. Tristan Hinderliter)