By Lt. Col. Jefferson Wolfe
7th Mission Support Command Public Affairs Officer

WIESBADEN, Germany -- Two Army exercises turned out to be lessons in flexibility for an Army Reserve unit augmenting United States Army Europe during its annual training.

The Medical Support Unit -- Europe, based on Daenner Kaserne in Kaiserslautern, Germany, sent 18 Soldiers April 9-28 to Clay Kaserne in Wiesbaden.

The Soldiers augmented the USAREUR Office of the Surgeon during exercises Austere Edge and Blue Flag, also known as the Joint Warfighter Assessment.

As they started working through Austere Edge, however, the real world intruded, and many of the MSU Soldiers wound up deviating from their planned training schedule in order to support contingency planning for the Syria strikes.

Then, the unit resumed participating in JWA from Wiesbaden, but changed their focus to augment activities in Grafenwoehr from afar.

"This is an awesome team," said Lt. Col. Renata W. Hannah, the USAREUR OSURG lead planner.

The MSU-E Soldiers worked together, helping update the office's Standard Operating Procedures, assisting in operational planning and providing input into the OSURG's role in Rapid Deterrence Response Option plan to determine how medical support might be needed.

"It's just been great," Hannah said.

Among all this, they divided into four groups to conduct planning to find ways to augment into the USAREUR OSURG better in the future, and establish the framework of an OSURG Patient Evacuation Coordination Cell to support multinational operations.

The number of different Military Occupational Specialties and officer Areas of Concentration came in handy as the mission diversified.

"It allowed us to be creative in reviewing the policies and procedures and brought insight that was unique," said Maj. James Wilson. "It expanded us to a level of operation that we hadn't used."

Specialties the MSU brought included: medical service crops officers, an operating room nurse, a patient safety specialist, an aero-medical evacuation officer, a nurse practitioner, medical laboratory officer, a supply NCO, two wheeled vehicle mechanics and a helicopter pilot, among others.

Part of the team conducted mission analysis to determine how they could plug into the USAREUR staff better, said 1st Lt. Kristin Angelle.

The MSU's plan for the future is to partner with USAREUR OSURG and provide augmentees in support of USAREUR-led missions and exercises.

It was a good opportunity for people who don't normally do a staff mission to learn, Angelle said.
"I learned a lot from everybody here," she added.

Angelle's goal is to specialize from a general medical officer to a medical operations officer, and the staff experience gave her a broader perspective on her future career.

"It gave me one more reason why I really want to do it," she said.

Capt. Isis Thompson said the exercise gave her a chance to see how things come back down the chain of command from a higher echelon. She was helping write policy and Standard Operating Procedures at a theater level, rather than a unit level.

The team was able to influence so many Soldiers working with USAREUR OSURG, she said. They would rarely be able to do that at the MSU level.

Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Edwards, one of the wheeled vehicle mechanics, said he had never worked at the theater level, either.

"It took things to another level," he said. "It took things from a drill-like event to a real world mission."