USAFE-AFAFRICA International Health Specialists Strengthen Medical Security Cooperation in Serbia

  • Published
  • By Maj Mumbi Ngugi
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Command Surgeon Office

The U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa Command Surgeon’s Office deployed a team of International Health Specialists to Belgrade, Serbia last month. Their mission included participating in a Key Leader Engagement and attending a change of command ceremony during which Serbia assumed leadership of the Balkan Medical Task Force.

The events were part of the fourth Regional Military Medical Conference, hosted by the Serbian Armed Forces. It brought together participants from the European Union, World Health Organization, NATO Medical Center of Excellence, and several countries including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Norway as well as the United States.

Brig. Gen. Radivoje Andjelkovic, head of the Serbian Military Health Department, expressed his support for the Regional Military Medical Conference in his opening remarks, noting, “I am convinced that, in addition to the exchange of ideas, this event will result in the improvement of the already successful cooperation of countries in the region with foreign countries including Norway and the United States of America.”

The Key Leader Engagement proved pivotal for building partnership capacity and featured delegations from the Serbian Armed Forces, including their Military Medical Academy, General Staff, and Aeromedical Institute.

Col. Steven Lehr, USAFE-AFAFRICA Command Surgeon, elaborated on the collaboration. “This event bolstered military medical readiness, ensuring robust support for physical and mental resilience in military, civilian, and international peacekeeping missions with the EU and UN.” He added that the engagement’s added focus on sustaining aerospace capabilities was critical for maintaining operational effectiveness and regional stability in the Western Balkans.

Lehr recognized Maj. Mumbi Ngugi and Master Sgt. Banita Hines, both International Health Specialists with USAFE-AFAFRICA/SG, for also coordinating this year’s collaboration with the Ohio National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP). The SPP enables bilateral engagements with foreign partners that allows for special emphasis on overseas programs such as Serbia’s health priorities and the development of enhanced medical capabilities for future humanitarian and disaster relief operations in the region.

“Serbia is a valuable Partner for Peace,” said Maj. Ngugi, “and our collaboration is mutually beneficial.”