KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Afghan National Army medical personnel on Camp Parsa, Afghanistan, are proving they are willing to learn and accept any challenge thrown their way after four months of partnership with coalition forces.
Afghans with the 203rd Corps, 4th Brigade, 1st Kandak Aid Station, and the Garrison Support Unit Troop Medical Clinic continue to partner with their American advisors, 1st Lt. Bryan Spear, medical logistics officer, and Pfc. Luis Simeon, a combat medic, both assigned to 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team “Rakkasans,” 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), in order to meet and eventually surpass the lofty goals set by Corps’ Surgeon Lt. Col. Rahimi.
While designing a training curriculum with a goal of operating as a standalone medical platoon, Spear focuses specifically on the development of a monthly training calendar, procedural review for ordering medical supplies, organizational storage of patient records and medical supplies, communication between aid stations, and ensuring vehicles and medical equipment are in good working order through proper preventive maintenance checks and services.
Since beginning their partnership, improvements can be seen in the quality scenario training, overall aid station organization and patient record filing.
“They have everything they need to operate as a standalone medical platoon,” said Spear. “They need to focus on organizational communication. This includes after action reviews, learning from their mistakes and the mistakes of others just like U.S. forces do to become better.”
While providing mentorship to the Kandak, Spear also maintains a training program with the Afghan Garrison Support Unit Troop Medical Clinic, focusing on medical evacuation and providing additional training for the medical specialty personnel.
“We focus on medical evacuation training to ensure the ANA soldiers understand how to operate the assets within their field ambulances,” said Spear. “This is so we can increase their effectiveness during ground evacuations.”
Spear and Simeon have been effective when coordinating ancillary support for the Afghan medical unit. Thus far, the soldiers have received advanced training from laboratory and X-ray technicians from Company C, 626th Brigade Support Battalion.
The clinic has also received training on equipment in their trauma room from Capt. Edward Kwon, surgeon, 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment.
“I was very surprised to see the type of sophisticated equipment that they had in their trauma rooms,” said Kwon. “The previous unit(s) really spent significant time advising them on the type of equipment that they would need to operate but never actually got the equipment for them.”
“Although they have knowledge of the equipment, there are still a lot of things that I wish to go over with them,” said Kwon.
Soon, the Afghans will receive additional training from dental and medical maintenance teams from Company C, 626 BSB.
In addition to the support and training, the 1-33 medical platoon is providing assistance by supervising the treatment of all ANA trauma patients, ensuring the Afghans are using proper methods of treatment, medical equipment and a feasible ground medical evacuation plan.
The soldiers of the GSU have a firm grasp of many life-saving treatments, but will benefit from the vast knowledge of an experienced physician such as Kwon and the support training of Spear and his team.
The GSU has already successfully treated and evacuated numerous casualties, ensuring that the ANA maintains its fighting strength.
The medical partnership units have seen great improvements in all of the Parsa medical treatment facilities after only four months. Although each unit has developed different goals to meet the needs of each facility, they all have the same end state in mind for the ANA: to one day operate as a standalone unit. With continued support from partnership units, the ANA medical soldiers will soon be capable of providing the same level of care as their American counterparts.