JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –An Army Capability Manager-Army Health System, or ACM-AHS, team provided their expertise during Arctic Warrior 21 at Fort Greely, Alaska, from February 6 to 12 to assess AHS, resolve Arctic Warfare gaps, enhance readiness, and inform modernization.
Arctic Warrior 2021, or AW21, is a cold-weather training event that incorporates airborne operations, situational training exercises, and live fire exercises at Donnelly Training Area, near Fort Greely, Alaska, and Richardson Training Area, near Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. The exercise validates winter field training in an arctic environment and tests the ability of maneuver units to fight and win against a near peer threat despite subfreezing temperatures, or extreme cold weather.
The TCM-AHS assessment team consisted of Col. Joselito Lim, Lt. Col. Cleve Sylvester, and Master Sgt. David Edwards.
For Lt. Col. Cleve Sylvester, ACM-AHS, it was the team’s first time assessing military operations in an ECW environment. “Somehow, I do not think it will be the last—at least not for the ACM-AHS,” Sylvester said. “This was really a great experience as it provided an opportunity for us to integrate with our counterparts, but most importantly, the warfighters in the field, and assess how the extreme climate affects operations.”
ACM-AHS is the modernization proponent and the capability developer for all things medical. They serve as the centralized manager for fielded force integrator activities associated with medical commands, brigades, field medical units, and the Army Health System. ACM-AHS coordinates, integrates, and synchronizes doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities and policy (DOTMLPF-P) domain activities in support of the Army Health System as a whole.
ACM-AHS was previously aligned under the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, as the TRADOC Capability Manager. As of November 1, 2020, ACM-AHS was realigned with Operational Control to the Army Futures Command, but administrative control remains with TRADOC. On November 1, 2021, ACM-AHS will complete transition to the Futures and Concepts Center, AFC.
Sylvester said, “We project that ACM-AHS will remain physically located at Fort Sam Houston within the MEDCoE footprint, which ensures synchronization of effort.”
During AW21, the ACM-AHS mission was to support the larger U.S. Army Combined Arms Center study looking at the capabilities of Arctic-capable units in ECW, snow, high-latitude or high-altitude environment, and what is needed to sustain the force in that operational environment.
Sylvester said their assessments largely focused on the operational missions of 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, and the 4th Brigade 25th Infantry Division. Primary assessment focus areas included medical equipment, medical supplies, evacuation equipment, communications and procedures, capability, and execution of Tactical Combat Casualty Care in extreme cold weather.
“We were able to augment the efforts of the USARAK Surgeon’s office personnel by doing the field assessments while they focused on COVID-19 testing and managing the real-world cold weather injuries,” Sylvester said. He believes the true impact of ACM-AHS, as well as that of other Centers of Excellence on AW21 will be evident in the near future as assessment findings are refined and coordinated with different agencies to look at trends and solutions.
This year’s Arctic Warrior had the added challenge of ensuring adherence to COVID-19 mitigation measures to include a 14-day quarantine before the exercise began. Sylvester said protection from cold weather, however, was less practiced than protecting themselves from COVID has become. “Without a doubt, the elements posed the biggest challenge—not just for our assessment team, but also for the assessed units.” Sylvester recalled how the Army-issued extreme cold weather gear proved very useful, when used properly, from ECW gear to snowshoes.
“The medical aspect of ECW operations in the Arctic cannot be overlooked,” Sylvester continued. “The USARAK Commanding General recognizes that as part of his overall safety posture for his formation.” Sylvester said his team feels like their efforts will make a significant impact on future operations and that the experience was a great opportunity for the entire team. “We appreciate and seize any opportunity to interact with our fellow Soldiers as their representatives for integration and synchronization of the Army Health System across the DOTMLPF-P domains.
Sylvester also said he expected that ACM-AHS will continue to build on lessons learned during AW21. For future assessments, they will look to assess even more areas, such as hospitalization, laboratory, radiology, and behavioral health care delivery in ECW conditions.
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