Type to search

News Viewpoints

VIEWPOINT: DAFB blood processing plant shines light on military science

Avatar photo

Dover Air Force Base is about to get a new lifesaving mission. Thanks to funding approved this spring in Congress and the hard work of Delawareans up and down the First State, Dover will soon be home to the military’s biggest blood processing facility.

Sen. Tom Carper, Sen. Chris Coons and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester commend the work underway for the new ASWBPL-East facility.

The new ASWBPL-East in Dover will continue to provide blood products for deployment on the front lines and overseas operations. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DAFB

Dover is already a strategically important military base. It’s home to 11,000 airmen and their families and responsible for a quarter of U.S. strategic airlift capability. The 436th Airlift Wing, or “Eagle Wing,” supplemented by the Air Force Reserve’s 512th Airlift Wing, or “Liberty Wing,” flies to more than 100 countries, helping make Dover the military’s busiest air freight terminal. They fly one of the largest aircraft in the world today, the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, and its cousin, the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. It’s one of the main transportation hubs for Ukraine aid, moving tens of thousands of tons of ammunition and weapons to Ukrainian soldiers fighting on the front lines of freedom, as well as countless pallets of humanitarian cargo like medical supplies and cold-weather gear.

The base also hosts the dedicated team members from Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, who receive those brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation and provide a solemn, dignified transfer of their remains and comfort to their families. This duty is never far from the minds of all who work at the base, and Dover’s symbolic importance as the first place on American soil for those who have given their all resonates throughout the military.

Now Dover will also house a state-of-the art facility that will get our troops serving overseas the blood and blood products they need when they need them.

Fulfilling this critical mission right now is complicated and time-consuming. Whole blood and blood products (such as red blood cells and platelets) for most deployed service members are first shipped to Dover so that they can be shipped again overseas. Since Dover’s C-5s and C-17s fly directly to bases abroad – notably to the Middle East – placing the Armed Services Whole Blood Processing Laboratory-East (ASWBPL-East) at Dover removes an extra step and makes the blood distribution process more efficient. That’s critical when time is of the essence on the battlefield.

The January drone attack by Iranian proxies on a U.S. base in Jordan that killed three Army reservists and injured dozens demonstrates the need to be well-equipped even when our troops are not actively fighting a war. We live in an increasingly tumultuous and uncertain world: In the last several years, Russia has launched an unprovoked war against Ukraine, China has moved aggressively in the South China Sea, and Houthis have repeatedly attacked cargo ships off the Yemeni coast. Military preparedness is critical.

Dover’s new facility will provide blood and blood products to more than just service members, too. Military family members, veterans, and civilians in places affected by natural or manmade disasters, both domestically and abroad, can all receive blood from the ASWBPL-East. Streamlining the blood distribution process helps not just our active service members but veterans and their families as well.

Funding wins like the new ASWBPL-East facility happen because Delaware has a united congressional delegation that recognizes Dover’s importance to our state. From Senator Carper’s military experience as the Senate’s only Vietnam veteran to Senator Coons’ invaluable seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee to Congresswoman Blunt Rochester’s work on health and the economy on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we’ve worked through the congressionally directed spending process to secure targeted victories and get funding to places where it can make an impact.

That means Dover gets a modern building with a layout specifically designed for the ASWBPL-East’s unique mission: state-of-the art laboratory equipment, ample storage space, advanced security to safeguard staff and samples, and a climate system that protects blood and blood products while ensuring a comfortable work environment. The U.S. military gets a new home for its ASWBPL-East operations that utilizes Dover’s preexisting flight lines to provide a much more efficient blood distribution process.

The new ASWBPL-East in Dover represents not only the U.S. military’s recognition of Dover’s superior logistics capabilities, but an investment in Delaware’s future. Right now, when the military needs to move troops or materiel, or when it requires a respectful return for our departed heroes, it turns to Dover. The base is Delaware’s window to the world, and its new lifesaving mission amplifies a critical role on the military stage.

Sen. Tom Carper, Sen. Chris Coons and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester are Democrats who represent Delaware.

Get the free DBT email newsletter  

Follow the people, companies and issues that matter most to business in Delaware.


You Might also Like

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Premier Digital Partners

© 2024 Delaware Business Times

Flash Sale! Subscribe to Delaware Business Times and save 50%.

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.


Subscribe to Delaware Business Times and save 50%