Camp Dodge, Iowa --
Enhancing regional and international partnerships, Airmen of the 132d Medical Group (Medhawks) located in Des Moines, Iowa hosted Airmen from the 190th Medical Group (Coyotes) located in Topeka, KS and six members of the Medical Company (Medcoy) of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) for an intensive, two-week, multi-dimensional, medical training course and field training exercise this month at the Sustainment Training Center (STC) on Camp Dodge Joint Maneuver Training Center (CDJMTC), August 13-24, 2018.
Building on two years of coordination and curriculum development, the combined team of Medhawks, Coyotes, and KSF medics logged a first-ever when they became the first Air National Guard unit to rotate through the STC. Further, this rotation was the first-ever operational test of “Annex Q”-joint medical response and support-of the Iowa National Guard’s All-Hazards Plan which augments IA Army National Guard (IA ARNG) medical units with IA Air National Guard (IA ANG) medical talent in times of natural disaster response.
With a focus on “global medical readiness,” the Air Force Medical Service (AFMS) mission encompasses full-spectrum medical operations; expeditionary deployment operations, humanitarian assistance, all-hazard response, and global health engagement to support building partnerships and stability operations. Further, Air Force Instruction (AFI) 41-106, Medical Readiness Program Management, calls for the employment of progressive planning strategies to ensure the AFMS capability is organized, trained, equipped and available to provide “Trusted Care, Anywhere.”
“The AF fights jointly,” the opening pages of AFI 41-106 state, “a reinforced commitment to joint interoperability and joint training…is seen in using mission essential tasks (METS) for training and expanding training opportunities through the use of joint field exercises as training venues for AFMS teams.” Consisting of all the hallmark components outlined above, the medical training campus at STC provides a second-to-none training experience for participants.
“This is a new and innovative training opportunity for the 132d Medical Group,” said Lt. Col. Chad Hynnek, 132d MDG commander. “This training enhances Airmen skill sets used in support of our state and federal mission. The med campus at STC immerses the team into full-spectrum Role I and II Army medical operations. Ultimately allowing us to familiarize Airmen with our counterpart’s common operating picture and procedures.
This type of training exemplifies the USAF’s commitment to the revitalization of the AF Squadron by allowing us to explore new and progressive training opportunities. This is also a great example of our strong bond and commitment to continued support of our state partner, Kosovo. Our team has shown the courage to try something new and not be afraid to fail. We know success is born through a willingness to embrace new innovative ideas.”
Over the two-week period spent at STC, Airmen and KSF members alike had the opportunity to train in a rigorous and deployment-like environment – where they obtained and demonstrated critical combat lifesaving skills and completed refresher training for the National Register of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT), performed and honed individual medical tasks in a deployed medical treatment facility (MTF) environment. Airmen were stretched and grown as leaders during the headquarters (HQ), treatment (TMT) and evacuation (EVAC) platoon staff section training – where they utilized Troop Leading Procedures, the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) and the orders generation process to further add to the deployed command and control (C2) environment.
A major component of a unit’s collective training period is the field training exercise (FTX) portion of the curriculum. Traditionally conducted during the second week of training, the Medhawks, Coyotes and KSF came together as one team to establish, sustain, and redeploy a mobile Role I treatment facility, three ground ambulances, and a fixed, Role II MTF complete with its own complement of equipment, supplies and moulaged patients.
The training scenarios encompass all aspects of medical care from point of injury care to Role I Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TC3) to evacuation and stabilization at the Role II MTF, and, eventually, medical evacuation to the next echelon of care. This portion of the training is used to evaluate the unit’s ability to complete the Commander’s Mission Essential Task List (METL) and a unit’s key collective tasks. In other words, can the unit complete its mission if called into action. To ensure a truly joint training environment, the Medhawk and STC staff combined METLS and Tactics and Procedures (TTPs) from both the Army and Air Force to create a unique, one-of-a-kind hybrid training curriculum; meeting the AF requirements while opening the door to previously unrealized training opportunities.
"Regardless of the Branch or Uniform we wear, service members in the medical field have a common mission and that is to ensure everybody makes it home to their loved ones,” said Army Capt. Vanessa LaGrange, STC Medical OIC. “When you combine medical forces, the likelihood of us accomplishing that mission increases exponentially. This training demonstrates the common mission and gets us much closer to accomplishing our medical mission. Yet, this is only the beginning."
For Senior Airman Ryan Ewing, an aerospace medicine technician from Topeka, Kansas, the STC rotation was his first annual training period away from his home unit.
“Love it, Blown away by the quality of the training,” said Ewing. “The realism and the way the skills were taught built on my initial training. Definitely worth it.”
For Corporal Lulezim Statovci of Podujeva, Kosovo, STC was a first for several reasons. In addition to being his first time in the United States, STC provided a unique opportunity to grow as a junior leader while gaining skills to bring back to the medical force in Kosovo.
“I had a great opportunity to learn a lot of new things that will help me improve in my job,” said Statovci. “It was my first experience as a junior non-commissioned officer to participate in a U.S. field training and exercise. It is my second time working with Airmen from Iowa, and I hope to continue our work together. I can’t thank them enough for their support and mentorship, and I hope that our partnership will continue to grow.”
Being evaluated against the Army and Air Force standards, the team was able to achieve an astonishing amount of training. In the two weeks on station at STC, the Medhawk, Coyote and KSF team was able to achieve: nearly 5,400 hours of individual hours of training and more than 340 individual readiness skills training (RST) tasks with an average RST completion rate of 73.4% across the force with four Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSCs) completing 100% of their RSTs. This is in addition to a three-day, full scale medical FTX where they provided evacuation and treatment for 24 sick call and 26 trauma patients as well as real-time medical battlespace and asset management within the Area of Operations (AO).