ANA, Marine partnership establishes combat medics course

CAMP GARMSIR, Afghanistan — As a squad of Afghan Nation­al Army sol­diers from the 1st Brigade, 215th Corps, patrols a dusty road, chaos ensues.

A Marine advi­sor calls out that a sim­u­lat­ed impro­vised explo­sive device explod­ed, and points to two Afghan sol­diers, who fall to the ground as mock casualties. 

Sev­er­al ANA sol­diers imme­di­ate­ly set up secu­ri­ty, as anoth­er sol­dier rush­es to aid the casu­al­ties. With­in 10 min­utes, the trainee has per­formed a com­bat life saver triage, and the casu­al­ty is being evac­u­at­ed to the near­est clin­ic in an Afghan ambulance. 

The care­ful­ly con­trolled chaos is part of the final exer­cise for the inau­gur­al 1/215 com­bat medic course here, Dec. 31. 

“The course will be able to help us train sol­diers to become medics and sup­port our med­ical sec­tion,” said Maj. Abdul Baqi, the sur­geon in charge of med­ical oper­a­tions with 1/215.

The new course was born out of the resource­ful­ness of Marines and Navy corps­men; pre­vi­ous­ly, all ANA medic cours­es were con­duct­ed at the Joint Secu­ri­ty Acad­e­my South­west in Camp Leatherneck. 

“We want to be able to train enough medics to become instruc­tors,” said Pet­ty Offi­cer 2nd Class Israel Rosa, a med­ical advi­sor with the Reg­i­men­tal Com­bat Team 5 embed­ded train­ing team and 26-year-old native of Stan­ton, Texas. 

“This would allow us to leave the brigade with the abil­i­ty to make their own medics, with­out rely­ing on our help,” added Rosa 

Pre­vi­ous cours­es required sol­diers to be lit­er­ate in both Pash­to and Dari, which became a chal­lenge for instruc­tors because of the low lit­er­a­cy rate of the trainees, said Rosa. 

Marines and corps­men with bat­tal­ion embed­ded train­ing teams began teach­ing hands-on, basic com­bat life saver skills to ANA sol­diers. As the train­ing devel­oped, corps­men began teach­ing ANA sol­diers advanced trau­ma care. 

“They noticed that the sol­diers were able to quick­ly learn and per­form the tasks, with the more hands on approach,” explained Rosa. 

The need for a course that did­n’t rely on the lit­er­a­cy of stu­dents became the new top­ic of dis­cus­sion at all lev­els of Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces health care development. 

With the direc­tion from Task Force Leath­er­neck, 2nd Marine Divi­sion (FWD) Surgeon’s Office, and the approval of the 215th Corps sur­geon, the 1st Brig. non-lit­er­ate com­bat medic course was born. 

The five-week course, taught by advi­sors from RCT‑5 and Com­bat Logis­tics Bat­tal­ion 1 part­ner­ing teams, focused on com­bat trau­ma care. 

The teams taught eager ANA sol­diers using hands-on, prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tion instruc­tion sim­i­lar to the tech­niques used by Marines and sailors at the bat­tal­ion level. 

“We taught the sol­diers how to treat patients at the point of injury,” said Rosa. “They also learned how to request a mede­vac and pro­vide con­tin­ued care en-route to the next ech­e­lon of care.” 

The sol­diers also learned pre­ven­ta­tive med­i­cine, sup­ply pro­ce­dures, patient after­care and clin­ic oper­a­tions and procedures. 

“The student’s are glad to be here,” said Baqi. “As I saw from the exer­cise, they have learned every­thing that the instruc­tors have taught them.” 

The final exer­cise test­ed the knowl­edge acquired by ANA sol­diers dur­ing the course. The sol­diers had to demon­strate mas­tery of their role as a medic dur­ing a patrol, and in a field hospital. 

“Dur­ing the exer­cise, we want­ed to make sure they pro­vid­ed secu­ri­ty while they treat­ed the casu­al­ty,” explained Rosa. “Once they got that under con­trol, we looked for them to apply the prop­er treat­ment for those injuries the casu­al­ty sus­tained, and con­tin­ue assess­ing the casualty’s health.” 

This final exer­cise marks the con­clu­sion of the inau­gur­al 1/215 com­bat medics course. The ANA sol­diers will grad­u­ate and offi­cial­ly become medics on Jan. 7. 

With the com­ple­tion of the course, the team hopes that a few pro­fi­cient and high­ly moti­vat­ed ANA medics can become instruc­tors for the course, Baqi said. 

“The CMC course will help us become more inde­pen­dent,” explains Baqi. “We will be able to treat our own sol­diers with our own medics.” 

With the sup­port of their Marine and Navy men­tors, the 1/215 com­mand hopes its sol­diers will con­tin­ue to devel­op their abil­i­ty to main­tain med­ical sup­port for the brigade’s sub­or­di­nate units. 

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