Minnesota National Guard and Niger improve medical capabilities Published Aug. 12, 2022 By Amy M. Lovgren, 133rd Airlift Wing ST. PAUL, Minn.– Three members of the Nigerien armed forces’ medical leadership team visited the 133rd Medical Group and 109th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron to learn more about the capabilities of providing medical care while on board a C-130 Hercules. During their one-day visit, the Nigeriens witnessed a C-130 Hercules being prepared for an aeromedical evacuation training mission. They learned more about the Medical Group’s Critical Care Air Transport Team and En-Route Patient Staging Team. “The last few years, the Indiana National Guard and Niger have been working together to improve the medical capabilities for their armed forces,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Brian Dykstra, Indiana National Guard. “Their medical leadership team came to Indiana to learn what capabilities we have in the United States of America.” Indiana is the home of two U.S. Air Force Wings, the 122nd Fighter Wing and the 181st Intelligence Wing; however, neither of the wings has the capabilities the Nigeriens were looking for. “We reached out to Minnesota based off of the capabilities the Nigeriens were looking for,” said Dykstra. “They are trying to develop Tactical Combat Casualty Care [program] along with learning about the capabilities for some of their airframes. Minnesota checks the boxes for having Critical Care Air Transport Team, Aeromedical Evacuation Team, and En-Route Patient Staging Team.” The visit was a positive experience for all parties involved with the education facilitated due to the assistance of a French translator, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kokou Azalekor, an electrical power production technician with the 133rd Civil Engineer Squadron. “Azalekor has been so beneficial to our visit,” Dykstra recalls. “We were unable to have our translator come with us, so I was afraid I had to do Face-Timing to help answer the questions. The fact that he is here and speaks French had been fantastic.” Dysktra reflects on his visit to Minnesota with the Nigerien armed forces’ medical leadership team as a great experience. The 133rd Medical Group and the 109th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron demonstrated combat care through aeromedical evacuation movements, providing invaluable hands-on training.