By Army Staff Sgt. David Hopkins
Special to American Forces Press Service
March 9, 2009 - Soldiers of 1st Infantry Division's Company C, 201st Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, are equipping Afghan National Army soldiers with the skills they need to save lives. Four ANA soldiers completed a six-week Tactical Combat Casualty Care Under Fire course last month at Forward Operating Base Fenty in northeastern Afghanistan.
After six weeks of combat medical training, the Afghan soldiers are ready to take their training to the field.
"They went through everything our medics go through in the States," said Army 2nd Lt. Victor Lopez, treatment platoon leader from Tucson, Ariz. "Tactical Combat Casualty Care Under Fire is the basic doctrine of what we are teaching in the States."
The training involved classroom and hands-on instruction using the most realistic and up-to-date techniques the U.S. Army uses on its own soldiers to develop them into life-saving experts.
"We didn't hold anything back," Lopez said. "We put them through the best available training with the latest techniques, and we've seen these guys grow from students to subject-matter experts."
The training was new to the ANA soldiers and difficult at times. "The toughest part is learning to stabilize our friends in the kill zone and then carrying them out to safety," Afghan soldier Quamuddin Sabbilnd, a course participant, said. "We have to stop the bleeding right away or they can die. It is very difficult, but we did it."
The training culminated in a group exercise in which they were faced with a battlefield problem involving two casualties in a hostile area. They had to quickly assess the situation, secure the area and save the lives of U.S. soldiers who were playing the part of wounded.
"They were put through the paces as if they were in combat and got hit, moving in tactical formation, coming under fire, and then reacting to the casualties' wounds," said Army Lt. Col. Bradley White, 201st BSB commander, who's from Council Bluffs, Iowa. "They quickly found the casualties, moved them from the kill zone and treated them. We're proud of our soldiers, but even more proud of these four [ANA] soldiers here today."
Iraqi and U.S. officials deemed this first training circuit a success, and said they have high hopes for the future of the program.
"Our first four soldiers [to go through the training] will train more ANA soldiers, and we will be witness to other ceremonies like this," ANA Lt. Col. Abdul Qauoom Gurbaz, 5th Kandak commander, said. "We have 10 more soldiers ready to get medical training so we hope the U.S. doctors will train them as well as they trained these four soldiers."
(Army Staff Sgt. David Hopkins serves with the 1st Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)