By CAPT. LYNDSAY KNOBLOCK-FASTSeptember 11, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Sept. 11, 2013) -- The small size of the 926th Medical Detachment (Preventive Medicine) stands in stark contrast to the magnitude of its mission. The 13-member unit provides sanitary inspections, epidemiological support, industrial hygiene, air, water, and soil sampling, and pest management for deployed units spread across large areas of operation. The 926th last deployed in support of Operation New Dawn from 2010-2011 and will head to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in October.
The unit recently completed its weeklong culminating training exercise Aug. 19-23 at McKenna MOUT site in preparation for an upcoming deployment. The CTE involved observer and controllers from 44th Medical Brigade, 14th Combat Support Hospital, subject matter experts from Public Health Command Region South, OPFOR role players from 3rd Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Battalion, 81st Armor Regiment, and IED support from MCoE Counter IED Team.
"The 926th (training exercise) brought together the command, NCO and Soldier teams in a way not seen by the unit. Through their determination, adaptability and teamwork, this trial by fire solidified them into a unit ready for combat operation" said Capt. Kristopher Appler, 14th CSH Observer/Controller.
"Our unit and Soldiers benefited greatly from assistance from the MCoE and 3rd ID. We couldn't have had such a great CTE without support of our contracted IED trainers, McKenna MOUT site personnel, and the awesome support of 3-16th Cavalry and 3-81st Armor. Having the Troopers alongside us really added an extra sense of realism to the CTE. I know our Soldiers picked their brains on mounted convoy TTPs and their weapons systems. That was a great example of the MCoE's 'One Force, One Fight' motto," 926th Commander Maj. Scott Vial said.
During the CTE, the 926th trained its mission essential tasks including: deploy and execute medical mission command; plan and execute Role III preventive medicine services; protect and defend; and unit supply, maintenance, and administrative activities. Soldiers demonstrated their tactical proficiencies (escalation of force, reacting to hostilities, MEDEVAC, casualty treatment, and counter IED) and technical skill sets (water sampling, pest management, occupational and environmental health assessments, and sanitary inspections) under realistic conditions. Throughout the CTE, the 926th showed that it is technically and tactically proficient in its Army warrior tasks and battle drills.
"The 926th Preventive Medicine Detachment performed their preventive medicine tasks in an outstanding manner," said Capt. Travis Gilchriest from PHC-S. "In conjunction with their technical skills they were engaged tactically, as well. This increased the stress level of performing their preventive medicine mission.
However, this did not deter the 926th from correctly collecting samples in the field. The 926th also showed great proficiency using the Deployed Occupational and Environmental Health Readiness System. This system records occupational and environmental health hazards encountered by our deployed Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines. These efforts are critical to ensuring the long term health of our nation's warfighters and are a mission the 926th is more than capable of accomplishing."
"This is by far the most realistic and challenging CTE that I've seen a PM detachment execute during my career," Vial said.
This is a sentiment held by everyone who either had a hand in developing or supporting the 926th CTE.
"I really enjoyed the CTE. The command team did a great job and kept the team well informed. My team leader made me feel more proficient in the duties involved in my job. I really enjoyed the personnel from 44th MED BDE…they told us what to expect when we arrived in theater. I learned what I was comfortable with and what I needed to work on prior to deploying," Spc. Amy Holecek said.