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March 15, 2005

The "Other War"

Castle War Correspondent MSG Keith sends:


Helicopter rescue by ISAF

Release #2004 - 47 19 October, 2004

KABUL, Afghanistan: Four JEMB election workers and two Afghan Police officers who had been stranded in freezing conditions in remote mountains have been rescued by ISAF helicopters in a joint operation with Coalition forces. The Afghan workers had been on their way to collect four ballot boxes from villages in Badakshan Province when a Russian Mi-8 helicopter due to collect them was forced to make an emergency landing on October 12.

Walking in often blizzard-like conditions, the workers retrieved the ballot boxes, but it has been impossible to reach them until now from outside because of the weather. Although rescue equipment was dropped to them, they began to suffer from hypothermia and their satellite telephone battery ran out of power. Yesterday evening a five person specialist rescue team from the US-led Coalition was parachuted in, to arrange for today's recovery.

At daylight two ISAF German CH-53 helicopters took off from Feyzabad, one
carrying specialist medical equipment. At the same time a ISAF German C-160
aircraft left Kunduz, to provide an aerial communications relay back to base. At 08.20 the helicopters had located the party and set off for the return journey with the JEMB officials, ANP officers, the US rescuers and the four ballot boxes on board.

On the return journey the six rescued received specialist medical attention on the medevac helicopter for a variety of symptoms including hypothermia,
dehydration and breathing difficulties. On their return to Kunduz at 11.40, the JEMB workers was transferred to the PRT hospital for a check-up, but have been released this afternoon. All six were said to be 'extremely tired'. The US rescue team has returned to the Bagram air base.

Exhausted crew-members of the German helicopters with the four ballot-boxes at Airport Kunduz

"I am very proud of everyone involved in this rescue, in remote and tough territory," says Lieutenant General Jean Louis Py, Commander of ISAF. "We worked closely with Coalition forces and the JEMB, and through good team work, and the excellent skills of those involved, I am very pleased this story has a happy ending. I am particularly struck by the dedication of the JEMB officials who stuck by their ballot boxes, even when things must have looked pretty desperate."

Chief of staff PRT Kunduz, LTC Matthias Reibold, welcomed and escorted the rescued to the PRT hospital.

"The rescue operation was conducted under borderline flying conditions on the edge of the oxygen poor sphere," adds Colonel Hans-Jürgen Ochs, Commander of this German Operational Wing. "It was high-level flying skills combined with efficient planning and favourable meteorological conditions which led to the desired success."

The ballot boxes have now been transferred to the Kunduz counting house where counting for the Province of Badakshan can now begin.

Note: The JEMB (Joint Election Management Board) is the Afghanistan Body responsible for managing the Presidential Election. It is being supported by ISAF.

While I don't doubt they exist, I wonder how many Americans these days would take such an interest in a chance at something approaching consensual government? Back in the days of the frontier, they did - but now? While I don't advocate making voting and counting votes *this* difficult... I find some of the whines of Americans as to why they *don't* vote to be embarrassing.

John | Permalink | Comments (4) | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
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