JOHNSTON, Iowa - Building on six years of partnership, Soldiers and Airmen of the Iowa National Guard together with members of the Medical Company (Medcoy) of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) participated in a two-week medical training course and field training exercise this month.

The exercises were conducted at the Sustainment Training Center (STC) on Camp Dodge Joint Maneuver Training Center (CDJMTC) as part of the State Partnership Program (SPP).

The SPP links U.S. states with partner countries around the world to promote access, increase capability, improve interoperability and enhance the principles of responsible governance. This program is a traditional security assistance program, which focuses on military to military exchanges.

These events are typically small in nature involving four to six Soldiers, Airmen or Kosovo Security Force members conducting an exchange for a period of five to seven days. Also present were several medics from the United Kingdom.

"Our State Partnership Program with Kosovo continues to make great progress since its creation in March 2011 and has become one of the best programs in the National Guard," said Maj. Gen. Timothy Orr, the adjutant general of Iowa, in his "Condition of the Guard" address to the 87th General Assembly of the Iowa Legislature in January 2017.

Building on several in-country SPP medical events from summer and fall 2016, medical planners from Iowa and Kosovo worked together to identify goals that both broaden the skill set and leadership experience of medical personnel, and explore combined "warrior task" engagement opportunities.

Continuing momentum gained last fall during the Eagle V field training exercise in Prizren, Kosovo, five Kosovo Security Force medical personnel together with five MEDHAWKS from the 132nd Medical Group (MDG) joined the 109th Multifunctional Medical Battalion (MMB), consisting of Soldiers from the 134th Medical Company (Ground Ambulance), 209th and 294th Medical Company (Area Support), for their collective training period at STC.

"To train side-by-side with the Iowa Soldiers and Airmen has been a dream of mine," said Maj. (Dr.) Genc Shalla, Medcoy deputy commander. "Working together as 'one team' in support of medical missions built cooperation between us. By the end of the training, it was like we had worked with each other for years."

Over the two-week period spent at STC, they had the opportunity to train at the Medical Simulation Training Center (MSTC) -- where they obtained and demonstrated critical combat lifesaving skills, performed and honed individual medical tasks in a medical treatment facility (MTF) environment.

They participated and grew as leaders during staff section training and seminars on the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP).

"Human physiology is the same no matter what nationality or branch of service you are," said Tech. Sgt. Davy Crockett, 132d MDG nursing NCOIC. "When it comes to medical care, it's a universal language. Blood is red regardless."

A major component of a unit's collective training period is the field training exercise (FTX) portion of the curriculum. Traditionally conducted during the second week of training, members of the 109th MMB, the 132nd MDG and the Medcoy came together as one team during multiple FTX iterations to build and train in a fixed, Role II MTF complete with its own complement of equipment, supplies and moulaged patients.

The training scenarios encompass all aspects of medical care from point of injury care to Role I Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TC3) to evacuation and stabilization at the Role II MTF and, eventually, medical evacuation to the next level of care.

"Joint international collective training exploits knowledge from all individuals involved incorporating a collective element, thus creating new quality," said Maj. Jamie Clasen, 209th MCAS Commander.

This portion of the training is used to evaluate the unit's ability to complete the Commander's Mission Essential Task List (METL) and a unit's key collective tasks. In other words, can the unit complete its mission if called into action?

While the overarching goals of this training touch on deployment of personnel and equipment, management of casualties under austere conditions and conducting forward medical and Role II operations, the main objective over the last two weeks was to conduct Role I & II training while integrating Soldiers, Airmen and KSF personnel into a single unit for an exercise with a distinct focus on collective training.

"Training with Airmen and KSF members is a very unique opportunity for our Soldiers," said Clasen. "Following the exercise, I was able to speak with many of them and the feedback that I received was very positive. I believe that it was great for the Soldiers, Airmen, and KSF partners to work side-by-side, learning from each other while building lasting memories during this STC rotation. Training like this is a tremendous readiness tool that can help to keep our Soldiers coming back for more as we continue to develop a larger, medical training concept that partners with Iowa Airmen and members of the KSF."