June 16, 2013
By Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Drumsta, New York Army National Guard
BOGOR, Indonesia -- U.S. Army Reserve medical troops cranked up the pace -- and the volume -- to better train their Indonesian Army counterparts here June 14.
The medics, who belong to the Hawaii-based 1984th U.S. Army Reserve Hospital, put about two dozen troops of the Indonesian Army's 1st Medic Battalion through medical first-responder training under simulated combat conditions as part of Exercise Tendon Valiant, one of the Garuda Shield 13 suite of events.
GS 13 is the latest in a continuing series of exercises designed to strengthen military-to-military cooperation while focusing on international peace support operations. Tendon Valiant participants also heard medical and health lectures and visited clinics to drop off medical supplies.
The simulated exercise capped a week of classroom instruction for the Indonesian Soldiers, mostly medics and nurses, who are expected to assume the role of trainers and teach what they learned to other Indonesian troops.
The classroom training focused on first-aid techniques that U.S. Army combat lifesavers learn, like controlling bleeding, restoring breathing and treating for shock, said Sgt. Tusisaleia Pomele, one of the reserve hospital's combat medics and trainers.
The trainers stressed to the Indonesian troops that medical personnel must provide security before treating battlefield casualties, Pomele said.
"I think that was something that was very different for them," she said.
When the classes were completed, the simulated combat training began in earnest on the grounds of a 1st Medic Battalion facility in Bogor. Divided into four-Soldier teams and equipped with rifles and U.S Army medic bags, the Indonesians troops were tasked with securing mock casualties -- played by Army ROTC cadets marked with specific wounds -- then treating and evacuating them.
Their American counterparts didn't make it easy.
Using a public-address system, loud music and their own voices, the trainers created a cacophony intended to simulate the distractions of combat. Pomele and the other reserve troops were a constant presence -- advising and critiquing the Indonesian Soldiers as they treated the mock causalities.
All the while, the American Soldiers continually urged the Indonesians troops to move faster. United States Army combat lifesavers are trained in the same way, and Pomele said the technique helps Soldiers learn how to block out noise and focus on treating casualties.
"We want to train them how to work under pressure," she explained.
The Indonesian troops seemed to be equal to the stresses of the exercise. Despite the noise, they moved about quickly, treating the simulated wounds and adapting to the ongoing critiques. They also listened patiently and asked questions during after-action reviews.
Though the U.S. and Indonesian medical troops have similar treatment techniques, they have different equipment, which he was excited to use, said Cpl. Agung Darmadi, who has been Indonesian Army nurse for 12 years. They also learned some new methods, he added.
"This will make our battlefield response quicker," he said of the training.
Working with the Americans Soldiers was fun, and he enjoyed sharing knowledge and experiences with them, he said.
"We're making new friends, and getting to know each other," he said.
Training like this may enable U.S. and Indonesian Army units to share medical resources and personnel in wartime or disaster-response situations, Pomele said. The Indonesians have been very hospitable, providing refreshments like coffee, tea and pastries throughout the training, she added.
"I'm very thankful for that," Pomele said.
The Indonesians and U.S. troops seem to have the same sense of humor, she noted.
Even so, Soldiers seem to be the same anywhere you go, and suffer the heat, fatigue and other hardships in similar ways, Pomele said.
"You find common ground in that," she said.