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News | June 14, 2021

LRMC exercise highlights Military Medicine overseas

By Marcy Sanchez

Over 300 Soldiers, Airmen and German Armed Forces Service Members participated in Operation Courageous Fury, a joint training exercise designed to assess medical operations in Germany at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, June 2-4.

The exercise was designed to measure Service Members’ competency in combat lifesaving skills and Army Warrior Training. The three-day exercise is the third training event of its kind at LRMC, a Role 4 theater hospital responsible for the medical care of wounded, ill or injured warfighters evacuated from the U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command, and U.S. Central Command areas of operation.

“Operation Courageous Fury is the third of our Courageous Series exercises intended to serve as a culminating training event for our monthly training,” said U.S. Army Maj. Erica Huerta, executive officer, Troop Command, LRMC. “There are three components to the exercise, Army Warrior Tasks, base defense, which is part of our troop diversion mission, an enduring mission, and the third aspect of it is our role to medical care.”

In addition to refreshing Soldiers on warrior tasks and lifesaving operations, the exercise also introduced other uniformed personnel to Army training exercises, reflective of LRMC’s combined operations with U.S. Air Force counterparts.

“We have trained, over the last few months, to sharpen our skills and to make sure we're ready at any time to defend (LRMC) and go out and do what Soldiers do,” said U.S. Army Pfc. Connor Tipton, a healthcare specialist at LRMC’s Pediatric Clinic. “We had our crawl phase, we’ve had our walk phase, this is our time to shine and work as a unit.”

While the training targeted Soldier competency and performance, LRMC leaders also gained insight to evolve the training in future exercises to improve Soldier performance and readiness.

“I wanted to go through it to get a perspective from the Soldier to better understand what they go through, so we can improve it for the next iteration,” explains Huerta. “There's a lot of potential to further develop these young (Soldiers) into leaders.”

The exercise emphasized reconnaissance operations, reacting to contact and radio operations, aiming to prepare Service Members for assignments with front line combat units.

“At the end of the day, the goal or the end state is readiness. We want to make sure our Soldiers are ready to execute any mission they're given,” said Huerta.

The Construct for Implementation of Section 702 of the National Defense Authorization Act outlines the priority of operational readiness and support of war fighting and operational missions over the delivery of clinical/health care services, meaning military medical personnel must consistently maintain a high standard of critical lifesaving skills for mission-related operations. At LRMC, war fighting and operational requirements are validated through exercises like Operation Courageous Fury and robust hands-on, practical training programs.

“A couple of years ago, when the (U.S. Army) decided to validate the readiness of the Medical Force, it was difficult to do in some areas where you don't have a high volume of patients, or don't see patients that are sick enough,” said Lt. Col. Ekerette Akpan, chief, Hospital Education and Training, LRMC. “To stay ready for (combat) we filled the gap (between Military Treatment Facility patient care and simulated combat scenarios) by standing up a simulation program. Part of that process is making the training space as close as possible to (combat environments) and having the right (simulation) equipment (and simulations).”

As part of the exercise, Service Members participated in a medical trauma team training, a simulated mass casualty event designed to assess team dynamics and communication in a deployed setting with limited resources. According to Akpan, the trauma training encompasses a briefing over possible scenarios staff may encounter, an orientation to LRMC’s European Medical Simulation Center, which mirrors real-world field hospitals in austere environments, and a combat scenario validating the unit’s medical combat readiness.

In addition to evolving Soldiers into leaders and testing Military Health System readiness overseas, LRMC leaders believe exercises like Operation Courageous Fury map out the training and support required for other Army Medicine units to develop and train their own Soldiers, swelling the Army’s capability to deploy, fight and win.

“Being able to balance our enduring administrative and healthcare mission with the operational aspect of being a soldier, I think that we have set the foundation,” said Huerta. “If we can do it here, where our healthcare mission over the last year and a half has been heavily (stressed) by COVID-19, and we've managed to overcome that to execute this training exercise, I think that it could be something that can be shared across to other MTFs.”

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