CAMP HUMPHREYS, SOUTH KOREA – Ten years ago, then-Maj. Dave Zimmerman stood on the airfield here and spoke about his role as the medevac pilot-in-command at an exercise called Dragon Lift.
A decade later, history repeated itself - but now, Col. Dave Zimmerman is the commander of the 65th Medical Brigade and the exercise is known as Pacific Medics Lift.
For the past few years, everyone in the health and medical field battled the COVID-19 pandemic. Now as we emerge from the pandemic and build to resume normalcy, training is at the forefront of enhancing the brigade’s ability to respond to any situation.
The brigade’s first order of business started with reinvigorating Pacific Medics Lift.
Pacific Medics Lift is designed to build readiness and competency within the U.S. and Republic of Korea military medical community. This training not only allows American and ROK soldiers to strengthen their roles within assigned teams, but also increases their tactical capabilities and enhances their readiness to fight tonight.
Throughout the exercise, each soldier faces multiple tasks. Each task builds character, confidence and experience, with the goal of increasing the effectiveness of units. The varied tasks range from treating patients on-site to transporting patients from the field to a higher level of care under realistic and stressful conditions. This is similar to what soldiers would face during real-life battle.
The training also develops strong, creative and dynamic leaders that can think on their feet and take initiative when facing potentially new operating environments. For many U.S. Soldiers, training alongside their Korean counterparts in a battlefield setting and practicing on Korean evacuation platforms may be a new experience.
Each phase of Pacific Medics Lift accounted for the varying situations and settings, allowing soldiers an opportunity to train on a Korean Air Force C-130 as well as a Korean Army hospital train. While in a deployed setting throughout the Korean peninsula, U.S. Soldiers gain invaluable life experience as well. Training in diverse tactical environments gives them a unique opportunity to learn a new culture, experience a new country and adapt to real-world situations.
Although conducting PML ensures the entire brigade is prepared and ready to respond to any setting, it is also about alliances and partners. The brigade is firmly committed and dedicated to strengthening the U.S.–ROK alliance. The medical mission remains a vital component to maintaining peace and security in the region, and the hard work of both the American and Korean Soldiers assigned to the brigade reinforces the alliance.
The medical brigade’s force is a disciplined, proud and professional cadre of Soldiers that embrace adversity. What Zimmerman said a decade ago, “This exercise provided a lot of good training for all parties involved,” remains relevant today.
The 65th Medical Brigade is forward-deployed, postured and prepared to conduct Army health service support and respond to any all-hazards event across the Korean peninsula. Soldiers are trained and part of a dedicated force committed to providing timely and compassionate care to our Soldiers, beneficiaries and allies.