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U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Devin Watson, 81st Medical Group vascular surgeon and St. Lucia Lesser Antilles Medical Team troop commander, performs an arteriovenous graft surgery at Owen King European Union Hospital, Castries, St. Lucia, Feb. 26, 2024. Patient’s needs were aligned with the specialties of USAF medical staff working hand-in-hand with host nation physicians and technicians to ensure continuity of care following all medical procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Madeline Herzog)

Castries, St. Lucia. (February 26, 2024): The U.S. Air Force is lending its medical expertise to the tiny Caribbean island of St. Lucia as part of Southern Command’s humanitarian assistance campaign. In this photo by Staff Sergeant Madeline Herzog, Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Devin Watson performs arteriovenous graft surgery at St. Lucia’s Owen King European Union Hospital. Officially called the Lesser Antilles Medical Team mission, the Air Force dispatched seventeen professionals including surgeons, nurses, and surgical technicians to work alongside St. Lucia’s overstretched medical staff. From February through March, the Southern Command will hold these events in the islands of Suriname, St. Kitts, and St. Vincent to build partnerships and to improve the regions ability to respond to medical emergencies.

Southern Command (Southcom) sponsors these medical readiness exercises involving teams consisting of doctors, nurses, and dentists to host nation citizens requiring care. This is part of Southcom’s annual humanitarian and civic assistance exercises that include building schools, establishing medical clinics, and digging water wells in countries throughout the region.

These humanitarian assistance exercises provide services and infrastructure to communities in need while providing training for both deployed U.S. military units and host nation forces. Many of these exercises take place in rural areas where basic assistance is most needed.

In St. Lucia, the Americans collaborated with local doctors to share best practices and they jointly performed a variety of surgeries for local residents at no charge. Collaborations like these will save lives in the event of a natural disaster and help cement relations between the U.S. and its Caribbean allies.