BAUMHOLDER, Germany -- Dental Health Command Europe partnered with the 16th Sustainment Brigade to conduct their inaugural field training exercise Sept. 4-5 at the Baumholder Local Training Area.

During the two-day field exercise, a team of more than 40 Army dental officers consisting of endodontists, orthodontists, oral maxillofacial surgeons and general dentists, along with more than 60 enlisted dental technicians from eight dentals clinics across the Dental Health Activity Rhineland Pfalz footprint, conducted dental exams, cleanings, and restorative work for approximately 50 Soldiers from the 16th Sustainment Brigade in a tactical setting.

"The purpose of this exercise was to enhance readiness," said Col. Manuel Pozo-Alonso, Dental Health Command Europe commander. "We have a lot of new Soldiers who come to Germany and have never experienced a field environment. This is a great opportunity for them to train, and to understand how to use our equipment in that setting. In addition, a lot of our doctors have never had the opportunity to be in the field, so it creates a great opportunity for them to actually put their hands on the equipment that they would be using."

The field training exercise offered the dental officers and enlisted dental technicians the opportunity to operate together as a team outside the comfort of a fixed dental facility.

"This was our first time running this exercise," said Capt. Edward Evans, the officer-in-charge of the field training exercise and a general dentist at the Baumholder Dental Clinic. "I think it's gone fairly smoothly. With anything like this you will have hiccups and problems, but I think we handled the course corrections pretty well.

According to Evans, the field training exercise was a win-win for both the Rhineland Pfalz Dental Activity and the 16th Sustainment Brigade stationed at Baumholder. The dental personnel needed the hands-on field training and the Soldiers from the 16th Sustainment Brigade were in need of periodic dental exams to ensure they were medically ready and deployable.

While this was DHCE's first field-training exercise, Pozo-Alonso says it was a great success and that it will be the first of many.

"As our dental providers and Soldiers rotate in and out of Germany, I want to make sure they are trained and comfortable with our field equipment and stand ready to deliver world class dental care, whether in a dental treatment facility or in the field environment," Pozo-Alonso said.

According to Army Directive 2019-07 (Army Dental Readiness and Deployability), oral health disease is one of the most common causes of non-battle injury disease, and Soldiers with uncorrected, severe dental deficiencies have a 75 percent chance of experiencing a dental emergency within one year.

Army Dental Readiness Categories

There are currently four dental readiness classifications in the Army:

Class 4 - Means the Soldier needs an exam to determine their dental status.

Class 3 - Means the Soldier requires restorative work which if left undone could require a medical evacuation over the course of a 12-month deployment.

Class 2 - Means the Soldier is deployable but still needs a cleaning.

Class 1 - Means the Soldier is deployable and has received their yearly cleaning.