Military Scrambles Soldiers, Staff and Supplies

From the New York Times: Volcanic ash and no-fly orders by European air-control authorities forced the U.S. military to reroute several planes flying wounded soldiers out of Afghanistan and to cancel hundreds of training flights in Europe, military officials said Monday. In addition, U.S. bases struggled with staff shortages because thousands of soldiers on leave were not able to make it back to base.

Transport aircraft carrying soldiers and supplies to and from Afghanistan and Iraq flew via bases in Spain rather than by way of Germany as is normally the case, officials said. Several medical evacuation flights took seriously wounded soldiers directly to the United States via Qatar, rather than to the military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.

Military commanders said the volcano required some adjustments and extra costs but was not seriously affecting operations or the ability to treat wounded soldiers. “The critical wartime missions are continuing,” Col. Donald J. Bacon, deputy commander of the Third Air Force, based in Ramstein, Germany, said in a telephone interview. …

Colonel Bacon said the volcano forced cancellation of 230 training sorties in Europe, which typically involve fighter jets and refueling planes. The flights will remain grounded until civilian authorities give the all-clear, he said. (photo: Reuters)

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