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American Forces Press Service

Oklahoma Guard Arrives in Azerbaijan for Humanitarian Mission

By 1st Lt. Crystal Stiltner, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 16, 2007 – Oklahoma Air National Guard members arrived here May 14 to participate in Operation Cherokee Angel, a medical humanitarian mission aimed at improving the health and welfare of the local population while training and working alongside Azeri medical personnel.

Col. Samandar Mammadov, Azerbaijan Ministry of Defense General Staff's Chief of Operations, welcomed the Air Guard team to the Qaraheybat Training Center, where their eight days of training began.

"The purpose of this training is treatment and rescue," Mammadov said. "This training exercise will accelerate our relations between the countries of Azerbaijan and the United States."

Training by the Oklahoma and Tulsa medical team includes classroom instruction on hospital site selection, field sanitation, shelter assembly, pre-hospital trauma care, patient assessment, and airway management. Classroom instruction will continue and then be practiced in the field by treating local Azeri displaced persons.

"This experience in humanitarian missions and global medicine is critical for future operations," explained Air Force Lt. Col James Davis, a flight surgeon with the 137th Airlift Squadron at Will Rogers Air Guard Base. "We look forward to sharing our medical knowledge with the Azeri forces."

Operation Cherokee Angel is meeting mandatory training objectives for the Oklahoma Air Guard personnel and providing valuable training to the Azerbaijan military, U.S. officials said.

The Oklahoma-Azerbaijan partnership was established in 2002 under the U.S. European Command State Partnership Program, which aligns selected states with nations around the world in an effort to promote stability.

Created in 1993, the State Partnership Program currently includes 54 partnerships worldwide. Twenty-six of those are in the U.S. European Command area of responsibility, including five in Africa and 21 in Europe.

(Air Force 1st Lt. Crystal Stiltner is assigned to the 137th Airlift Wing.)

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