WARDAK PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A paratrooper from Attack Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team speaks with village elders in Chak District, Wardak Province, during Operation (click for more)
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army 1st Lt. David Moore of Barrington, N.J., Laghman PRT civil affairs officer, listens as a young man reads from an ISAF newspaper during a (click for more)
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Kermit O. Scott of Columbia, S.C., a team leader with 3rd Platoon, Company D, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Bulldog, greets (click for more)
PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – An Afghan National Army soldier stands guard at Forward Operating Base Thunder, one of three bases insurgents attacked in eastern Afghanistan Sept. 24. (click for more)
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan –Cpl. Ian Jones, from Flint, Mich., and Spc. Leopoldo Baca, from Socorro, Ariz., ground combat patrol, keep in radio contact with the incoming helicopters that will return (click for more)
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Pfc. Ryan L. Carson of Richmond, Va., Company Intelligence Support Team with Company A, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Bulldog, and an (click for more)
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan--Young voters in Deh Yak District here wait their turn to enter the polling center and cast their vote Sept. 18. (click for more)
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan--Khowst Provincial Governor Abdul Jabar Naeemi displays a finger marked by indelible ink Sept. 18 after voting at the Khowst Tuberculosis Clinic here. (click for more)
PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan– Forty-six Afghan National Army Soldiers graduated from an eight-week combat medic course, the first iteration at its location to be taught by Afghan instructors, at Forward Operating Base Thunder, July 8.
The graduates represented a mix of new recruits and seasoned soldiers who had not had a previous opportunity to attend the training. Upon receiving their certificates of completion at the graduation ceremony, each soldier proclaimed, “I serve for Afghanistan,” in their native Dari or Pashto.
The completion of the iteration represents a landmark for the U.S. and Afghan forces, who jointly developed the combat medic course at FOB Thunder over the last several months. The course is the second of its kind in Afghanistan, the first being in Kabul.
The initial task of building the 8-week ANA combat medic course at FOB Thunder fell on a U.S. Air Force Medical Embedded Training Team early this year. The first iteration had only 15 students.
In June, the responsibility for developing the course further fell on the U.S. Army’s of Medical Combined Action Team Normandy Tactical Command Post, who had been providing medical training to Afghan National Police since December. The unit is a team of less than ten troops, all reservists from the 4005th U.S. Army Hospital based out of Lubbock, Texas.
“Our mission is more of a medical mission about getting them ready to assume medical responsibilities throughout the battlefield,” said Capt. Carlos M. Rivera, the medical operations officer and medical combined action team chief for Normandy TAC from Ponce, Puerto Rico.
The course contains about 70 percent of what would be taught in a U.S. medic course. The remaining 30 percent pertained to technology not yet available to Afghan Soldiers, he said.
Afghan Soldiers who become combat medics must master blocks of instruction on how to address bleeding, respiratory obstruction, amputation and other injuries to prevent casualties from losing life, limb or eyesight en-route to higher care. To pass the final test, which simulates a mass casualty event under distracting conditions, students must run into a dark room with loud music and flashing lights and provide as much treatment as possible in five minutes.
Soldiers who complete the course become integrated into regular units with the 203rd Thunder Corps, a division-sized element of the ANA with battalions in five provinces in southeast Afghanistan. There, they will work as combat medics and train the other troops in their units on basic combat-lifesaving skills.
The iteration that concluded July 8 was the first time Afghan instructors lead the FOB Thunder combat medic course. The ANA 203rd Thunder Corps Surgeon selected troops from the Kabul National Military Academy to serve as instructors based on their prior knowledge and experience, Rivera said. The American Soldiers remained on scene as advisors to the ANA instructors.
“For us that’s the biggest point, because we’re trying to work ourselves out of a job,” said Army Sgt. Jordan Shirley, an advisor with Normandy TAC.
The training will help pave the way to a future in which a large international presence isn’t needed, Shirley said.
“What better than actual Afghans teaching Afghans, (who know) what is required for them to know? We provide the baseline and the basic theory and they just put together the courses and actually know what is best for them to know and to employ in the battlefield because they have the experience,” Rivera said.
Afghan National Army Sgt. Said Raheem, a non-commissioned officer assigned to the FOB Thunder garrison who has been in ANA for 7 years, was named the honor graduate for this iteration. He said he felt confident in the skills he had learned in the combat medic course.
“I hope I will use my techniques in fighting and in ambushes, because I want to serve Afghanistan as a Soldier,” he said. “As long as I’m alive I will defend my country.”
Of the 50 ANA troops who started the class, all but four passed. The four who failed will be retrained on those sections they had difficulty on and given an opportunity to re-test, Rivera said. He added that Afghans who take the medic job must be prepared for the rigor and discipline it requires.
“When you go out into the battlefield and you provide medical care there is no room for mistakes,” said Rivera. “Every mistake will... ultimately be the (loss) of a Soldier’s life.”
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