ISIOLO, Kenya — U.S. Army Capt. James Hogan is a medical plans and operations officer, as well as executive officer for the 182nd Medical Company, Massachusetts National Guard. His hometown is Boston, Mass., but he also spent time in Georgia so he lacks the well-known Boston accent. On the civilian side, he works in the human resources department at the Veterans Affairs Boston Health System.
During exercise Justified Accord 2023 (JA23), hosted by the Kenyan Defence Forces from Feb. 11-23, Hogan originally wanted to give his unit some experience outside the country, something they do not do very often. In the end, it was decided he would be the sole representative sent to Kenya from his unit.
“This would have been a great opportunity for my unit to get out of their comfort zone,” he said. “Personally, I enjoy seeing new things. I’ve done a similar exercise in Tajikistan, but it was more for staff officers. I will definitely share what I learn with the rest of my unit upon returning.”
Although he is the only participant from his unit, Hogan is not alone here in Kenya.
“I’m teamed up with another medical planner, Capt. Jeffrey Sparda with the Massachusetts National Guard Medical Detachment. We both coordinate all the medical assets, working together between role one and role two, as well as combat lifesavers out with the units at the various training areas,” explained Hogan.
Together, they traveled from Boston to Nairobi, joining approximately 1,000 other participants from nearly 20 partner nations in U.S. Africa Command’s largest East African exercise.
Role one medical care consists of providing first aid, initial lifesaving measures and triage for additional treatment. Role two is the secondary step where medics can manage more advanced injuries, handle trauma patients and provide additional treatment measures, when necessary.
“We assist them in conducting medical evacuations,” said Hogan. “Those units who have their own combat lifesavers can treat injuries in the field, but if it goes beyond that, we make sure they can quickly take injured Soldiers off the training area and transport them safely back to base camp where more advanced treatment can be administered.”
If Soldiers require additional care, procedures are in place to medically evacuate them to a local clinic.
“Even before all that, there’s a validation process we undergo in order to conduct these medical operations,” Hogan said.
At the beginning of the exercise, medical personnel rehearsed procedures such as placing an injured Soldier on a litter, transferring and offloading them into and out of a vehicle, then transporting them between training areas and base camp. Throughout validation, someone is always watching the clock.
Those who participated in the rehearsals conduct after action reviews to discuss how to improve and make the process quicker and more efficient, while maintaining patient safety.
“The partner nations have been great to work with; everyone is very friendly and we’ve gone through plenty of instructional classes together,” said Hogan.
Hogan had nothing but praise for Kenya and their military.
“Kenya is a beautiful country,” he said. “I’ll definitely have some stories to share once I get back home. For instance, with the weather, I can’t complain. It’s certainly been hot out here, but I come from Boston where it was negative 30 degrees fahrenheit a few weeks ago. Now we’re operating in 90 degree weather.”
There will be opportunity for additional stories to share once Hogan’s unit receives a free day to explore the surrounding area.
“Next week, during a break in operations, we’re going to take a safari and I'm really looking forward to that,” he shared. “We’ve seen a few animals such as baboons. Others have seen an elephant in the area. We just don’t see that everyday back home.”
During the seven-hour drive between Nairobi and Isiolo, Hogan and his colleagues witnessed the expansive desert interior of Kenya. He shared that the scenery was very interesting with different fauna and wildlife. But he misses his loved ones back in Massachusetts.
“My girlfriend and daughter are my strength; they help remind me of why I’m here,” he said. “I’m keeping in contact with people back home and I really appreciate the support from my family and friends.”
U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF) is responsible for achieving U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Army Campaign Plan objectives while conducting all U.S. Army operations, exercises and security cooperation on the African continent.