U.S. Soldiers made history this summer by bringing the Army's Health Care Specialist School and Army Basic Instructor Course (ABIC) to the Armenian Armed Forces.
Mobile Training Teams (MMTs) from the U.S. Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization (SATMO) at Fort Bragg, N.C., and the Army Medical Department Center & School (AMEDD) out of Fort Sam Houston, Texas, deployed to Yerevan, Armenian's capital, June 2 to Sept 2.
“The overall goal was to establish a combat medic school within the Armenian military,” said Capt. Chris Hudson, the MTT officer in charge. “We taught the entire 68Whiskey Advanced Individual Training (AIT) course-Day One through graduation-to the Armenian medics.”
Hudson said AMEDD instructors provided Armenian soldiers the same level of training U.S. troops receive to become qualified health care specialists. The Armenian students, who are expected to stand up their military's first combat medic school in January, learned to administer emergency medical treatment to battlefield casualties; prepare patients for evacuation to next level of care, manage equipment and supplies for patient care; and many other skills that has made the U.S. military a leader in saving lives on the battlefield.
“This enables the 12 Armenian instructors to develop their own program of instruction for medic training that will best suit their needs in the future and will be a great force multiplier for generations to come,” said Master Sgt. Efrem Dicochea, AMEDD's Advanced Training Branch Chief instructor who served as the MTT NCOIC.
Helping a partner nation build a program as complex as a combat medic school from the ground up meant teaching in phases. After AMEDD successfully completed Phase One of the training, a four-man SATMO MTT arrived to teach Phase Two-the modified ABIC. Upon completion of ABIC, students become qualified Army instructors.
According to Hudson, being an expert combat medic is one thing; being an instructor and teaching others how to be a medic is a different story.
“It was the train-the-trainer methodology,” said Hudson. “The Armenians will now be trainers and subject matter experts, able to establish their school and have the capacity to train 50-60 medics at a time.”
ABIC Instructor Sgt. 1st Class Romeo Santos said he benefitted greatly from the experience, learning as much from the students as he instructed.
“We've definitely made lasting friendships with the students,” said Santos. “They gave us their time and patience, and the cultural gap really didn't exist after the first day.”
Fellow ABIC instructor Sgt. 1st Class Johnny Gonzales agreed, and said everyone benefits on the battlefield from shared knowledge.
“It's the continuity of care,” said Gonzales. “Whoever gets injured, or whatever medic comes upon them-either Armenian or U.S. Soldier-that person would receive quality care right on point of injury.”
Hudson, an Engagement Branch team leader with SATMO, accompanied both training teams to Armenia. Having conducted five previous MTT deployments, Hudson provided the transitional expertise and continuity.
Phase Three of the training, slated for 2016, will deploy U.S. observer/controllers to evaluate the first class of Armenian medics at their new school.
“These troops will probably be a part of NATO peacekeeping forces and in order to deploy units for NATO missions, they must train to NATO standards, so they'll have a corps of medics that are NATO qualified,” said Hudson.
The benefit to the U.S. Army is an increased interoperability that is the trademark of security assistance operations. For SATMO, deploying MTTs like this showcase their motto: “Training the World, one Soldier at a Time.”
SATMO is a subordinate organization to the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command (USASAC), headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Ala.