CAMP TAJI, Iraq (Army News Service, Sept. 20, 2010) -- An aviation brigade at Camp Taji, Iraq, has been assigned with operating a consolidated level-two medical clinic in an effort to maintain military infrastructure as Operation New Dawn brings sweeping changes.

The brigade inherited responsibility of the clinic this summer when the medical support battalion running it went home without a designated replacement.

The Enhanced Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, typically only manages a level-one clinic with immediate life-saving capabilities. Level two is next to the highest level of care available to troops in Iraq.

The clinic is a modern facility with a pharmacy, in-patient capabilities, a radiology department and aerial and ground evacuation capabilities. The clinic's modern capability, however, is well concealed behind a third-world faAfASade of cement barriers and barbed wire -- mandatory protections from enemy attacks.

The medical team's mission is two-fold. The facility is intrinsically capable of treating and evacuating trauma victims -- most recently they saved the life of two Iraqi soldiers who were hit by an improvised explosive device -- but is also designed to service non-battle-related medical needs. The clinic treats everything from gunshots to headaches.

The relaxed work-flow at the clinic allows the brigade's senior medical staffers to focus on partnership relations with the Iraqi military on Camp Taji. Like most units in Iraq now, the aviation brigade is working closely with an Iraqi partner unit. While the partnership is only officially between the commands of the units, other joint relations have formed between combat personnel and Iraqi troops.

The level-two clinic is comparable to many local hospitals, and the Iraqi military's medical capability is stretched thin on Camp Taji, said Lt. Col. Daniel Johnston, the brigade's surgeon, who often visits with Iraqi physicians on the camp.

"We should be doing everything we can to help train and supply the Iraqi military. It's very worthwhile and maybe we'll leave Iraq a better place for it," he said.

The clinic has also developed a mental health screening system to identify Soldiers that may need additional help from specialists. The system is incorporated in the clinic's ordinary screening, and is designed to screen all of the clinics routine patients.

The brigade is scheduled to stay in Iraq until next spring, when the clinic is expected to be turned over to Iraqi personnel in-line with the government's 2011 time-table for withdrawal.

(Spc. Roland Hale writes for the Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.)