More than 65 U.S. military medical and support members are in the west African nation of Gabon to participate in an annual medical assistance exercise in African countries, Navy officials said in a news release.

The MEDFLAG exercise aims to provide a realistic training environment for military personnel and helps them become familiar with each other’s capabilities, the Naval Forces Europe-6th Fleet release stated.

“The end result is to help develop West African militaries’ disaster response capabilities,” Cmdr. Paul Pruden, medical planner for the exercise, said in a statement.

U.S. personnel can get experience working in an austere environment and seeing patients with ailments that they might come across while responding to a disaster in West and Central Africa, he said.

In 1987, the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed U.S. European command to create annual medical training exercises in Africa.

Since then, EUCOM and 6th Fleet have refined exercises to include a wide range of medical training with local medical professionals.

Thunderbirds crew visiting RamsteinAir Force Thunderbirds pilots and one of their planes will be at Ramstein Air Base as part of the Fourth of July celebration.

One of the flight demonstration team’s pilots will fly a spare plane to the base on Wednesday and will be available for autographs, said Steve Gerome, who works for the 435th Services Squadron and is helping coordinate the event.

The pilot is scheduled to arrive at noon. Some of the squadron’s other pilots plan to fly up to Ramstein in a transport plane after performing an air show over Aviano Air Base in Italy.

Pilots and support personnel plan to be available from noon to 5:30 p.m.

The squadron is not planning to perform their show in Germany.

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